China reports its first new locally transmitted COVID cases in three weeks, sparking mass testing

·3 min read
China reports its first new locally transmitted COVID cases in three weeks, sparking mass testing
china covid swab
A worker in a protective suit takes a throat swab for a COVID-19 test in Wenchang in southern China's Hainan Province Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo
  • China reported seven new COVID cases on May 13, including two locally transmitted infections.

  • The two cases were detected in Lu'an city in Anhui province and sparked a round of mass testing.

  • The Chinese government said this is the first time mainland China has had locally transmitted cases in three weeks.

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China has reported new locally transmitted COVID cases for the first time in three weeks.

According to a statement from the local government in Lu'an city in the country's eastern Anhui province, the city government detected two new cases of COVID on Thursday evening, local time.

Chinese state media Xinhua wrote that the first case, a 27-year-old woman known as "Li," had been in contact with an imported case in Dalian, a northeastern port city, before flying into Anhui. The second case recorded was a 31-year-old woman known by the surname "Lu," a colleague traveling with Li who shared a hotel room with her.

Xinhua reported separately that the government has classified Lu'an city - a town around six hours from Shanghai - as a medium-risk area. Mass testing of the city's residents also kicked off on Thursday, with the residents of three districts in the city told to report for testing, particularly if they display COVID symptoms.

The Chinese government also announced that five other COVID cases were reported on May 13 - with three cases detected in Guangdong, one in Shanghai, and another in Fujian - but classified them as "imported cases" that were immediately quarantined. Nine imported cases were reported in the country on May 12.

Reuters reported that last time local cases were recorded was on April 20, when China saw two COVID cases surfacing in the Ruili, a county in the southwestern Yunnan province.

According to a Xinhua article on April 29, China saw 364 imported cases in April, a 20% increase from March. Chinese health officials said these cases were picked up through its intense "14+7"-day quarantine measures - where foreigners must undergo 14 days of quarantine at a facility before self-quarantining for a week at home.

Local media outlet Sina News reported last month that the emergence of these cases in Yunnan resulted in a 72-hour lockdown of the city, which was lifted on April 26. At the time, Chinese epidemiologists speculated that the cases could have come from undocumented migrants from Myanmar - which borders Yunnan province - moving across the border and forming a new cluster in Ruili.

China - which was previously the epicenter of the COVID pandemic - has kept its cases under control for months. This allowed for a domestic tourism boom during its five-day labor day holiday from May 1 to 5, which Chinese media outlet CGTN wrote involved 230 million domestic trips taken by people across the country.

According to Reuters, the total number of cases in the country stands at 90,815, with 4,636 deaths. However, the BBC reported in April that China might not be entirely transparent about its COVID numbers, as it does not count asymptomatic COVID cases in its records.

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