China has reported 15 new COVID-19 cases, including 12 asymptomatic infections, the health authorities said on Thursday, as the mass testing for the deadly coronavirus began for the 11 million people in the city of Wuhan, amid apprehensions about a second wave of the pandemic.
According to China’s National Health Commission (NHC), the three new cases are domestically transmitted, with two reported in Liaoning province and one in Jilin province.
As of Wednesday, the overall confirmed cases on the mainland had reached 82,929, including 101 patients who were still being treated. Overall, the death toll in China stood at 4,633, the NHC said.
Following a spike in cases, officials in Jilin city of the northeast China’s Jilin province have adopted a number of more stringent measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Gai Dongping, vice-mayor of Jilin, told reporters on Wednesday that the city had reported a total of 21 community cases, with two asymptomatic patients, since the first cluster infection was reported a week ago.
“The current outbreak is very serious and complex and poses a major risk of further spread. In order to prevent and stem the spread of the epidemic, the Jilin epidemic prevention and control group has decided to implement control measures in the urban area of Jilin,” she was quoted as saying by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
The NHC said that 712 people with asymptomatic infections were under medical observation. This included 574 in Hubei province and its capital Wuhan.
The local health commission in Wuhan said no new confirmed case of coronavirus was reported on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Wuhan began a massive campaign on Wednesday to test all of its over 11 million people.
The tests to be completed by May 20 began as a top health official warned that China’s risk of COVID-19 cluster infections caused by the sporadic cases cannot be ignored, although the epidemic is in a generally stable state in the country at the moment.
The newly reported six confirmed domestically transmitted cases in the Chinese mainland on Tuesday were all related to previous cluster infections, Song Shuli, a spokesperson for the NHC told the media here in Beijing on Wednesday.
“We need to stay alert and put in place measures for regular epidemic response to resolutely prevent new outbreaks,” state-run Xinhua news agency quoted her as saying.
The well-publicised testing in Wuhan came as a surprise as it was being done more than a month after the 76-day lockdown was lifted from the city on April 8. China has also opened up in a big way all over the country.
Beijing has also announced plans to hold the annual parliament session of the National People’s Congress on May 22.
As of Wednesday, the death toll in Hubei, which was one of the first epicentres, stood at 4,512, including 3,869 in Wuhan.
Hubei has reported 68,134 confirmed COVID-19 cases in total, including 50,339 in Wuhan.
Globally, the death toll from the coronavirus has gone up to 297,197 and over 4.3 million people have been infected by COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University data.