Recent Covid-19 outbreak in China’s Nanjing linked to flight from Russia

A woman receives a nucleic acid test for Covid-19 in Nanjing, in eastern Jiangsu province, on July 29, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China's eastern city of Nanjing reported 13 new domestically transmitted Covid-19 patients, bringing the total to 184 since July 20, as the country's latest major outbreak caused by the more contagious Delta variant persists.

Gene sequencing results of 52 cases linked to the outbreak showed they have all contracted the Delta strain, Ms Ding Jie, deputy director at the city's centre for disease control and prevention, said at a news briefing on Friday (July 30).

Cases in the early stage of the outbreak were workers at Nanjing Lukou International Airport who cleaned an airplane after it arrived on a flight from Russia, Ms Ding said.

The gene sequence of the virus found in samples of the workers were identical to that from an infected person arriving from the flight, she said.

"After their work was complete, due to cleaning and protective measures not meeting standards, it's possible some staffers got infected, causing the virus to spread among cleaning staff," Ms Ding said.

China had earlier on Friday reported 64 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for July 29, compared with 49 cases a day earlier, the health authority said.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that 21 of the new infections were local cases, compared with 24 the previous day. There were no new deaths.

A majority of the local cases were reported in Jiangsu province, the authority said.

The province's capital city of Nanjing is currently facing an outbreak of the Delta variant that surfaced earlier this month.

The official Xinhua news agency reported that the source of the outbreak was inadequately protected airport staff who were cleaning planes after international flights.

The authorities have since conducted mass testing in the city, and closed the airport on Tuesday.

Two cases of the virus were also reported in Hunan province.

One case was reported in Beijing.

Zhangjiajie city in Hunan province has required all tourist sites, cinemas and theatres to close, and banned large gatherings to contain the virus.

The measures were announced after symptomless carriers outside the province were found to have attended a live performance at a theatre in Zhangjiajie on July 22.

Local authorities deemed all spectators in the theatre during 6-7pm on July 22 at a high virus risk.

Over 2,000 people attended performances on July 22 and guests were seated next to each other, a health publication run by state media the People's Daily said in an report on Wednesday.

China also reported 25 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 14 a day earlier.

As of July 29, mainland China had a total of 92,875 confirmed coronavirus cases, it said.

China's death toll from the coronavirus remained unchanged at 4,636.

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