China reports 206 new COVID-19 infections, highest in 21 months

China detected its highest single-day rise of Covid cases in 21 months with 206 new infections, including 158 locally transmitted ones, the country’s health commission said on Sunday.

Of the new local cases of coronavirus, 157 were reported in Shaanxi and one in Guangxi provinces, besides 48 imported cases, the National Health Commission (NHC) said.

This comes a day after China’s Xi’an city in Shaanx province recorded 250 cases, after which the officials put the city of 13 million residents under a draconian lockdown.

The sudden spike in infection has alarmed officials who are scrambling to make sure that the Winter Olympics begins as per the schedule in February in Beijing.

The Chinese officials claimed that none of the infections were caused by the Omicron variant, although a handful of Omicron infections among international travellers and in southern China have been reported.

Also read | China’s Xi’an starts testing for millions as Covid cases surge

The health officials had also reported an outbreak of Delta strain sub-lineage AY.4 in Zhejiang province in the middle of the month, which was reportedly brought under control.

There were 2,011 active cases in China as of Saturday, with nine in critical condition, the commission said.

Also read |  China puts millions under lockdown after virus outbreak in Xi’an city

No new deaths were reported, leaving the cumulative death toll at 4,636. Mainland China had 101,077 confirmed cases as of Dec. 25.

Following a spurt in cases in Xi’an city, dozens of Communist officials were punished for failing to stop the outbreak. 

China’s disciplinary body announced the punishments of the officials on Friday, the latest state reprimands under Beijing’s strict zero-Covid approach.

(With inputs from agencies)

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