China expects new Covid-19 cases to rise in coming days, affected areas to expand

People queueing to get Covid-19 vaccine booster shots at a vaccination centre in Beijing, on Oct 23, 2021.
People queueing to get Covid-19 vaccine booster shots at a vaccination centre in Beijing, on Oct 23, 2021.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - China's new Covid-19 infections will increase in coming days and the areas affected by the epidemic may continue to expand, a health official said.

The current outbreak in China is caused by the Delta variant from overseas, National Health Commission official Wu Liangyou said at a briefing in Beijing on Sunday (Oct 24).

The wave of infections spread to 11 provinces in the week from Oct 17, commission spokesman Mi Feng said at the briefing.

Most of the people infected have cross-region travel histories, Mr Mi said. He urged areas that have been affected by the pandemic to adopt "emergency mode".

Some cities in the provinces of Gansu - including its capital Lanzhou - and Inner Mongolia have halted bus and taxi services because of the virus, according to Mr Zhou Min, an official at the transport ministry.

China reported 26 new local confirmed Covid-19 infections on Saturday, including seven in Inner Mongolia, six in Gansu, six in Ningxia, four in Beijing, one in Hebei, one in Hunan and one in Shaanxi, according to the National Health Commission. Another four local asymptomatic cases were reported in Hunan and Yunnan.

In the capital city of Beijing, the epidemic has expanded to three districts including Haidian, a scientific hub, Beijing Centre for Disease Prevention and Control vice-head Pang Xinghuo said at a briefing on Sunday.

Five new confirmed local Covid-19 cases and an asymptomatic one were reported between Saturday midday to Sunday 3pm, she said.

Beijing will cancel a marathon originally scheduled for Oct 31 due to the virus, the Beijing Daily reported.

People in cities where infections have been found are banned from visiting or returning to the capital at present, the newspaper said.

In Wuhan, the Wuhan Marathon, which had been due to take place on Sunday, was postponed at short notice. Organisers said in a statement late last week that the postponement was “to prevent the risk of epidemic spread”. 

The marathon was expected to see 26,000 participants take part in races across the central Chinese city where coronavirus was first identified towards the end of 2019. 

The National Health Commission spokesman Mi on Sunday also said that China had given complete doses of Covid-19 vaccines to about 75.6 per cent of its population.  

Some 1.068 billion people have now been inoculated with the required dosages, out of a population of 1.412 billion, Mr Mi said. 

China is giving booster shots to adults whose last dose was at least six months earlier, with priority groups including essential workers, older people and those with weaker immune systems. 

Data has shown that antibodies elicited by vaccines, including the most-used shots from Sinovac and Sinopharm, decline within months.