Delta Covid-19 cases spread across China after drop in Xi'an

A man in a protective suit standing guard at the entrance of a residential compound in Xi'an, China, on Jan 5, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - China's Delta variant-fuelled Covid-19 outbreak is not showing signs of easing, with cases now cropping up elsewhere in the country and technology hub Shenzhen on high alert, despite a drop-off in the latest epicentre Xi'an.

The National Health Commission on Friday (Jan 7) reported 116 new domestically transmitted cases for the previous day, including 57 in the city of Xi'an and 56 in central Henan province.

Three asymptomatic infections were found in Shanghai. Shenzhen discouraged people from leaving the city after separately announcing two new infections, according to a statement from the local authorities.

Those who need to exit will be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test result starting from Saturday.

The latest flare-ups, creating the most protracted stretch of infection in China since the virus first emerged in Wuhan two years ago, have posed challenges to the Chinese authorities as they prepare to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month.

China - one of the world's last Covid-zero holdouts - has enacted strict measures to curb Covid-19's spread, including locking down some 13 million residents in Xi'an and halting flights in and out of the western city.

While cases continue to crop up, the country has not yet seen local transmission of the Omicron variant even as it fuels record surges across the globe.

Daily cases in Xi'an - which has reported more than 1,900 total infections - have dropped into the double digits from over 100 a week ago, as the authorities grapple with public frustration over tight restrictions.

There was a wide public outcry this week after a pregnant woman lost her baby outside a hospital that denied her entry due to Covid-19 controls.

Still, officials expressed confidence that they would able to maintain China's resolute Covid-zero stance.

"Though we might expect more cases to keep coming, the risk of a substantial rebound in the outbreak has been largely contained," Ms Li Qun, an official with the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, was quoted as telling state-backed media about Xi'an's flare-up.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.