China reports 15 new COVID-19 cases; no new strains detected

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing, China

SHANGHAI (Reuters) -Mainland China recorded 15 new COVID-19 cases on Dec. 21, compared with 23 the previous day, and will look to strengthen measures to prevent the arrival of a new strain of the coronavirus, the country's health authority said.

The National Health Commission said in its daily bulletin that 13 of the new cases were imported. Two cases of local transmission were reported in the northeastern province of Liaoning.

Another 17 asymptomatic cases were reported on Dec. 21, up from 15 the previous day. China does not include asymptomatic patients in its total confirmed case list.

Feng Zijian, deputy director general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) told state broadcaster CCTV that no imports of a new coronavirus strain have been discovered, but the agency is closely monitoring its spread globally.

A new highly infectious strain of the virus has been detected in Britain, as well as some other countries.

Feng said the CDC is studying ways to further strengthen prevention to shield against new strains.

Mainland China has now reported an accumulated total of 86,867 coronavirus cases, with 4,634 deaths.

(Reporting by Samuel Shen and Brenda Goh; editing by Richard Pullin)