BEIJING (REUTERS, AFP) - China reported the lowest daily count of local confirmed Covid-19 infections in two weeks on Wednesday (Jan 19) after cities sealed up areas of virus risk, quarantined infections and conducted mass testing.
Mainland China reported a total of 55 domestically transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms for Tuesday, according to official data on Wednesday, lower than 127 a day earlier and marking the fewest since Jan. 4.
The drop was mainly driven by fewer infections in the central city of Anyang, which reported 29 new local symptomatic cases for Jan 18, compared with 94 the prior day, data from the National Health Commission showed.
China has fewer local infections than many other countries, but it insists that any virus flare-up should be curbed as soon as possible.
The strategy takes on extra urgency with the Winter Olympics set to open from Feb 4 in Beijing and neighbouring Hebei province, and amid efforts to make sure no major outbreaks occur during travel for the Chinese New Year.
The city of Beijing reported one local confirmed case for Jan 18. It also reported one local asymptomatic carrier, which China classifies separately.
Beijing Municipal Postal Administration said international mail arriving in the city must be disinfected and kept static for 48 hours - 24 hours for mailbags and 24 hours for the mail separately - before further checks, state television reported on Tuesday.
The measure came after Beijing officials reported one local Omicron case for Jan 15 and said the possibility that the person was infected via imported goods "cannot be ruled out".
Beijing's local confirmed case on Jan 18 and a local case reported on Jan 17 in the city were linked to the Jan 15 Omicron infection, while the local asymptomatic carrier on Jan 18 tested positive for the Delta variant, a Beijing city official said on Tuesday.
There were no new deaths for Tuesday, leaving the death toll at 4,636.
As of Jan 18, mainland China had 105,345 confirmed symptomatic cases, including both local ones and those arriving from abroad.
In the Chinese megacity of Xi’an, public transport has partially resumed, according to official announcements, after millions were confined to their homes for weeks because of a coronavirus outbreak.
The easing of transport rules – including the resumption of some inter-city train routes – comes just before the Chinese New Year holiday later this month, traditionally a period of mass travel.
Some 13 million Xi’an residents were placed in lockdown in mid-December as cases spiked, but the historic city reported no new local cases on Wednesday for the first time in weeks.
Local authorities said public transport had resumed in “low risk” areas from Tuesday.
Trains from Xi’an to popular destinations such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have “basically resumed operations” as well, state broadcaster CCTV said on Wednesday.
CCTV added that the number of commuters at the city’s train stations – mainly students and migrant workers – was increasing as well.
Xi’an’s flare-up was China’s biggest in months.
Local authorities came under fire for how they handled it – with supply issues and medical tragedies affecting residents, including a pregnant woman who miscarried after being denied access to a hospital because she lacked a recent coronavirus test.
Wednesday’s absence of cases suggests the current outbreak is coming under control.