Provinces across China have imposed tougher restrictions in an attempt to racing to contain the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak in months, with health officials attributing the surge in COVID-19 infections to the highly contagious Delta variant.
Authorities reported 328 symptomatic infections in July – almost adequate to the entire number of local cases from February to June.
“The main strain circulating at the present is that the Delta variant … which poses a good greater challenge to virus prevention and control work,” Mi Feng, spokesman for the National Health Commission (NHC), said at a news briefing on Saturday.
It came each day after the planet Health Organization (WHO) urged governments globally to contain Delta before it turns into something deadlier and draws out the pandemic.
The WHO said an 80 percent average increase in COVID-19 cases was recorded over the past four weeks in five of the health agency’s six regions, a jump largely fuelled by the fast-spreading Delta variant.
First detected in India, the strain has now reached 132 countries and territories.
“Delta may be a warning: it’s a warning that the virus is evolving but it’s also a call to action that we’d like to maneuver now before more dangerous variants emerge,” the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan told a press conference .
According to a leaked document by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the us , a review of findings from other countries showed that while the first SARS-CoV-2 was as contagious because the cold , everyone with Delta infects on the average eight others, making it as transmissible as chickenpox but still but measles.
In China, the present outbreak is geographically the most important to hit the country in several months, challenging its early success in curbing the pandemic within its borders.
More than 260 infections nationwide are linked to a cluster in Nanjing city in eastern Jiangsu province, where nine cabin cleaners at a world airport tested positive on July 20.
Hundreds of thousands have already been locked down within the province, while Nanjing has tested all 9.2 million residents twice.
The contagiousness of the Delta variant, combined with the height tourist season and high passenger circulation at the airport, has led to the rapid spread of this outbreak, NHC official He Qinghua told reporters at the briefing.
Fresh cases reported on Saturday in two more regions – Fujian province and therefore the sprawling megacity of Chongqing – included one patient who visited the tourist city of Xi’an, in Shaanxi province, and a world cargo crewman who recently travelled from abroad, authorities said.
Officials in one Chongqing district ordered emergency mass testing late on Friday for people that had visited venues linked to confirmed cases.
After one asymptomatic case was discovered in Zhengzhou – the epicentre of recent deadly floods in central Henan province – city officials on Saturday ordered mass testing of all 10 million residents. the top of the town health commission was also sacked.
The tourist city of Zhangjiajie in Hunan , where the landscape inspired the “Avatar” blockbuster, locked down all 1.5 million residents and shut all tourist attractions on Friday, consistent with a politician notice.
Health officials said the virus was likely brought there via the Nanjing cluster, consistent with preliminary investigations.
Officials are now scrambling to trace people nationwide who recently travelled from Nanjing or Zhangjiajie, and have urged tourists to not visit areas where cases are found.
After reports that some people sickened within the latest cluster were vaccinated, health officials said this was “normal” and stressed the importance of vaccination alongside strict measures.
The COVID vaccine’s protection against the Delta variant may have somewhat declined, but the present vaccine still features a good preventative and protective effect against the Delta variant,” said Feng Zijian, virologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 1.6 billion vaccine doses have thus far been administered nationwide as of Friday, the NHC said. It doesn’t provide figures on what percentage people are fully vaccinated.
Health officials have said they’re aiming for 80 percent of the population to be fully vaccinated by year end.