China reports 130 new COVID-19 cases, state media warns against ‘crying wolf’
China reported 130 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for Jan. 15, as authorities continued to battle a severe outbreak in the Northeast that has put more than 28 million people under lockdown.
That figure was down from 135 cases a day earlier, China’s National Health Commission said on Saturday. Of those cases, 115 were local infections, 90 of which were in Hebei province surrounding Beijing that has been hit hardest in the latest wave.
Another 23 cases were found in northeastern Heilongjiang province while two cases were reported in Beijing.
Total case numbers remain well below what China saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020, but concerns about a new country-wide wave are growing with a major national holiday a month away and estimates of 296 million railway passenger trips during the Lunar New Year break.
This surge comes as a World Health Organization-led (WHO) team of investigators are in quarantine in the city of Wuhan, where the disease was first detected in late 2019. The team aims to investigate the origins of the pandemic that has now killed nearly 2 million people worldwide.
Authorities in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, which already imposed a lockdown，said late on Friday that they had completed two rounds of testing for COVID-19 and had tested more than 10 million people, finding 247 positive cases in the process. Of these, 217 were in the city’s Gaocheng district.
But some places should not “cry wolf” and be too quick to declare that they are entering “wartime mode”, state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday, referring to a term that has been linked in China to the enactment of harsh COVID-19 prevention measures and saying that some local governments were doing so.
“Misuse of the expression “wartime mode” by local epidemic prevention and control will not only confuse the masses, increase unnecessary panic, affect normal production and life, and is also detrimental to the overall situation of epidemic prevention,” it said in a commentary.
It added that the current pattern of the outbreaks was not the same as the province of Hubei and its capital of Wuhan, and that China had accumulated a lot of experience since then that has made the authorities confident of containing its spread.
The health commission also reported that 79 new asymptomatic patients, which it does not classify as confirmed cases, were found on Jan. 15 compared with 66 a day earlier.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 88,118, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4,635.