China reports more COVID-19 cases while some cities kick off new tests

BEIJING, Aug 9 – China reported more COVID-19 cases as it entered the third week of its current outbreak on Monday, while some cities added rounds of mass testing in the effort to stamp out locally-transmitted infections.

The highly infectious Delta variant has been detected in more than a dozen cities since July 20, and officials have asked local government authorities to rigorously track infections and close loopholes in control efforts.

“A laxity of mind should be firmly overcome,” the National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement on Sunday that called for the outbreak to be curbed.

Analysts see the Delta variant as the biggest test of China’s zero-COVID strategy since last year’s initial outbreak, but expect authorities will quash it before it gets out of control, even if at some economic cost.

Sunday’s 125 new confirmed infections on the mainland included 94 locally transmitted cases, up from the previous day’s figure of 96, with 81 locally transmitted, while the rest were imported from abroad, the NHC said on Monday.

Most of Sunday’s local patients were in the central city of Zhengzhou and the eastern city of Yangzhou, government figures showed.

Yangzhou has started a fifth round of mass tests, city authorities said on Monday, when Zhengzhou is expected to wrap up sample collection for its third round of citywide tests.

The eastern city of Nanjing, hit hard in the outbreak that began late in July, though it reported no more than five daily local cases since Aug 2, has also started a third round of targeted testing in some areas, after three rounds citywide.

The number of new asymptomatic infections was 39, up from 30 a day earlier. China does not classify them as confirmed cases.

China’s tally of infections stands at 93,826 since the outbreak began, while deaths stayed at 4,636.

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