Local Covid-19 cases more than double in China's Fujian

A woman undergoing a Covid-19 test in Putian city, Fujian, on Sept 13, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - New local Covid-19 infections more than doubled in China's south-eastern province of Fujian, the health authorities said on Tuesday (Sept 14), in the country's latest outbreak of the coronavirus.

The National Health Commission said 59 new locally transmitted cases were reported for Sept 13, up from 22 infections a day earlier. All of them were in Fujian.

In just four days, a total of 102 community infections have been reported in Fujian, a province bordered by Zhejiang to the north and Guangdong to the south.

The infections come ahead of the week-long National Day holiday starting on Oct 1, a major tourist season. The last domestic outbreak in late July to August disrupted travel, hitting the tourism, hospitality and transport sectors.

Fujian's outbreak began in Putian, a city of 3.2 million, with the first case reported on Sept 10. Preliminary tests on samples from some Putian cases showed patients had contracted the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The virus has since spread to the scenic coastal city of Xiamen, which reported 32 new local cases for Sept 13 compared with just one infection a day earlier.

"The Putian government is a big client of ours," said a staff at a Xiamen building survey firm, declining to be named.

"About half of our company went to Putian last week. They are now isolated at home, while the rest have gone to do their Covid-19 tests."

Like Putian, Xiamen has locked down some areas of higher virus risk, cut offline classes at kindergartens, primary schools and high schools, closed public venues such as cinemas, gyms and bars, and told residents not to leave the city for non-essential reasons.

The first patient in the Xiamen cluster was a close contact of a case in Putian, the Xiamen health authorities said late on Monday.

Known for its mild weather and a laid-back lifestyle, Xiamen is a popular tourist destination domestically.

The Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport is also a key transportation hub linking the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta. About 60 per cent of flights to and from Xiamen were cancelled on Tuesday, according to aviation data provider Variflight.

The two cities, however, are yet to announce tough citywide lockdowns as seen in early 2020 in China.

Three new cases of community transmission were also reported in nearby Quanzhou city, versus six infections a day earlier.

Variflight data showed 70 per cent of Quanzhou's flights were cancelled.

One district in Quanzhou, where many of the cases work in or have visited Putian, has halted bus services, shut some public venues, suspended dining at restaurants, and required residents to avoid unnecessary trips out of the district.

"One wave after another," said a bank manager in Xiamen. "It feels like the new normal now."

Overall, mainland China reported 92 new confirmed Covid-19 cases for Sept 13, including imported infections, compared with 49 a day earlier.

China reported 20 new asymptomatic Covid-19 cases, which it does not classify as confirmed infections, compared with 28 a day earlier. No new deaths were reported. As at Sept 13, mainland China had recorded 95,340 confirmed cases, with the cumulative death toll unchanged at 4,636.

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