Mainland China saw its biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in more than five months, the country's national health authority said on Monday (Jan 11), as new infections in Hebei province surrounding Beijing continued to rise.
A county in the northeastern Heilongjiang province on Monday moved into lockdown after reporting new novel coronavirus infections, state television also reported separately.
Hebei accounted for 82 of the 85 new local infections reported on Sunday, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement, with Liaoning province also reporting two new cases and Beijing reporting one new case. The country also saw 18 new imported infections from overseas.
The total number of new COVID-19 cases stood at 103, the highest since 127 cases were reported on Jul 30.
Though the new cases being reported in recent days remain a small fraction of what the country saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020, authorities are moving aggressively to curb the spread of the disease and prevent another national wave of infections.
Shijiazhuang, Hebei's capital and the epicentre of the new outbreak in the province, is in lockdown, with people and vehicles barred from leaving the city as authorities move to curb the spread of the disease. Public transport in the city has also been halted.
The city's steps are in line with a usual package of COVID-19 restrictions local authorities in China implement when they see a cluster emerge.
Wangkui county, under the jurisdiction of Suihua city in Heilongjiang province, reported eight new asymptomatic cases and moved on Monday to close all non-essential businesses, banned people from leaving the city and blocked all non-essential traffic, state television also reported.
Each family in the county can have one person leave their home once every three days to buy necessities, the report said.
Hebei's highway authority said on Monday that multiple sections of highways in the province have been closed for COVID-19 prevention and that vehicles registered to Shijiazhuang and Xingtai will be asked to go back. The latter city has also reported COVID-19 cases in recent days.
The NHC reported 76 new asymptomatic patients for all of mainland China, up from 27 a day earlier. China does not count these individuals, who are infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease but not exhibiting symptoms, as confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 87,536, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.