NANJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Several Chinese cities in China have asked their residents to avoid travelling as more cases of Covid-19 have been reported across the country.
Fifty-three new locally transmitted confirmed cases and 25 new locally transmitted asymptomatic carriers were reported in the Chinese mainland on Saturday (July 31), the National Health Commission said on Sunday.
Meanwhile, top Chinese epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan said at a summit in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Saturday that he was not too worried about Nanjing's recent outbreak, since the city has taken effective measures to contain the virus.
He also suggested that the concept of close contacts should be changed in the light of the Delta variant.
"We used to consider as contacts the family members, colleagues and people who had a meal or meeting with infected people up to two days before they showed symptoms," Dr Zhong said.
"But with the emergence of the Delta variant, people who are in the same space, same workplace and same building as infected people four days before they show symptoms should be considered as close contacts."
Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, recorded 14 locally transmitted confirmed cases on Saturday. Since July 20, the megacity has reported 204 locally transmitted confirmed cases, including seven patients in serious condition.
Also in Jiangsu province, the cities of Yangzhou and Huai'an respectively reported 12 and four locally transmitted confirmed cases on Saturday.
Yangzhou has taken strict measures to contain the virus and launched a second round of nucleic acid testing in its downtown areas on Sunday.
The city has closed all bus, taxi and ride-hailing vehicle services as well as long-haul bus services out of the city since Saturday. Passenger flights at Yangzhou-Taizhou International Airport have also been suspended.
Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, removed the directors of the city's health commission and the No. 6 People's Hospital from their posts on Saturday for failing to contain the virus. The city, which was recently hit by torrential rains, reported on Saturday 12 locally transmitted confirmed Covid-19 cases and 20 asymptomatic cases.
"The virus is highly contagious and has spread quickly in Zhengzhou," said Henan Provincial Health Commission deputy director Zhang Ruoshi. "Most of the locally transmitted cases in Henan are related to No. 6 People's Hospital, which was the city's designated hospital for treating imported Covid-19 patients."
The city of more than 12.6 million is setting up 4,168 sample collection sites to complete citywide nucleic acid testing in three days, starting on Sunday.
"Health experts confirmed that the new cases were mainly caused by the Delta variant," said Henan Centre for Disease Control and Prevention's deputy director Zhao Dongyang.
On Sunday, Beijing reported two new locally transmitted confirmed Covid-19 cases and one asymptomatic case, both related to the outbreak in Nanjing. The three cases were in Fangshan district. The residential community of the confirmed cases and surrounding communities have been closed to the outside, isolating about 9,500 people.
The authorities said that Covid-19 patients from Beijing and people from their communities and workplaces should not leave the capital. Similarly, people from places outside of Beijing where infections were found should not enter the capital.
Flights, trains and buses from those places to Beijing have been suspended, the city's top epidemic prevention group said at a meeting on Sunday.