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China Covid-19 Cases Hit Five-Month High, Prompt New Lockdown

Mainland China experienced its largest daily increase in symptomatic Covid-19 cases in more than five months on Monday, according to Reuters. The alarming milestone comes as Lunar New Year, when China’s factories shut down and workers return home for celebrations, is just one month away.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported 85 local symptomatic cases in its Monday briefing. Hebei, whose capital Shijiazhuang locked down its 11 million residents last week to curtail the spread, accounted for 82 of these new cases, the NHC said. The Liaoning province reported two new cases and Beijing confirmed one new case. The country also recorded 18 imported cases.

The total number of reported new Covid-19 cases, 103, represents the highest total since the sourcing powerhouse reported 127 new cases on July 30, Reuters said. These numbers, however, do not include asymptomatic cases. In its Monday briefing, the NHC reported 76 new asymptomatic cases.

A South China Morning Post report last week said many patients had attended village events over the past three weeks, sparking concern from health authorities that more Covid cases will appear in coming weeks.

The NHC called for strengthened measures to curb the virus’ spread Friday. As of Thursday, the organization said about 3,000 medical workers had arrived in Shijiazhuang to support the city’s prevention and control of Covid-19.

Wangkui county, of Suihua city, Heilongjiang province, has also been placed under lockdown, according to China Daily. As of Monday morning, the county had a total of 20 local asymptomatic cases, it said. Per Reuters, state television reported that the county on Monday closed all non-essential businesses, banned people from leaving the city and blocked all non-essential traffic.

China’s current spike in cases stands well below what it reported last winter, when daily new cases totaled in the thousands. Of course, those numbers are easily dwarfed by the current case numbers in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. According to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, reported cases in the U.S. and U.K. reached all-time highs Friday of 293,054 and 68,192, respectively.