China: As Delta spreads, COVID-19 cases hit 7-month high
China is witnessing a resurgence of COVID-19 as it reels under the impact of the highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 cases touched a seven-month high on Tuesday after domestic infections were brought down to nearly zero. The latest outbreak—described by Chinese media as the worst since the virus first emerged in Wuhan—has sparked fresh local lockdowns, mass testing, and travel restrictions.
According to Chinese health authorities, the country on Tuesday reported 143 new cases. Among them, 108 were locally transmitted. This is the highest surge since January when it recorded 144 new cases and 126 domestic infections. Most of the recent infections are reported from the provincial city of Yangzhou. Further, cases have been detected in dozens of Chinese cities including the capital Beijing.
Yangzhou city authorities said negligence on the part of some officials has led to the current COVID-19 outbreak in the city. "A small number of party members and cadres have yet to perform their duties properly," city authorities said. The city with a population of about 46 lakh has reportedly conducted five rounds of testing and collected 16 lakh samples to limit the spread.
Amid efforts to stamp out the virus, infectious diseases specialist Zhang Wenhong said authorities have gradually been able to control it. "We have successfully contained the epidemic in Guangzhou, and the epidemic in Nanjing is gradually being put under control."
China has so far controlled the spread of the virus with tight border restrictions. However, the latest surge in Yangzhou started after airport cleaners in the neighboring Nanjing city were infected with the Delta variant. The Delta variant arrived in Nanjing city after seven passengers in a flight from Moscow were infected with the virus. It subsequently spread to the airport cleaners.
Separately, the United States is witnessing an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant. The seven-day average of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country topped 1,00,000 for the first time in nearly six months. The seven-day average for deaths rose from about 270 deaths per day two weeks ago to nearly 500 a day as of Friday.