China had reined in its outbreak but it apparently has escalated to become the worst with dozens of cases around the country, a city closed down, and punishment of its local leaders.
Now, the country is on high alert as an outbreak of cases connected to the international airport in the eastern city of Nanjing touched at least 17 provinces.
China reported 71 new cases of Covid-19 from local transmission on Wednesday, more than half of them in coastal Jiangsu province, of which Nanjing is the capital.
In Wuhan, the central city where the first cases of Covid-19 were identified in late 2019, mass testing has shown some of its newly reported cases have a high degree of similarity to cases discovered in Jiangsu province.
Those cases have been identified as being caused by the highly transmissible delta variant that first was identified in India.
Meanwhile, another Covid-19 hotspot was emerging in the city of Zhangjiajie, near a scenic area.
The city ordered residential communities sealed on Sunday. In a subsequent order on Tuesday, officials said no one, whether tourist or resident, could leave the city.
The city government’s Communist Party disciplinary committee on Wednesday issued a list of local officials who “had a negative impact” on pandemic prevention and control work who would be punished.
The city itself has only recorded 19 cases since last week, three of which were people with no symptoms, which are counted separately. However, individual cases linked to Zhangjiajie’s outbreak have spread to at least five provinces, according to the Shanghai government-owned newspaper the Paper.
Far higher numbers were reported in Yangzhou, a city next to Nanjing, which has recorded 126 cases as of Tuesday.
After announcing last week that they were suspending issuance of passports for travelers except for those with an urgent need, officials at the National Immigration Administration reiterated the message again on Wednesday at a press briefing.
As of Tuesday, China has given more than 1.71 billion vaccine doses to its population of 1.4 billion. It’s not clear how many of those are first or both doses, but at least 40 per cent of the population is fully protected, according to earlier announcements.
In addition to the 71 cases of local transmission, 25 travelers from overseas have Covid-19 and have entered quarantine, making the total for Wednesday 96 new cases. The National Health Commission also said 15 people tested positive for the virus but have no symptoms.
China has reported 4,636 deaths and 93,289 cases of Covid-19 overall, most of them from the original outbreak in Wuhan that peaked early last year.