China to test CNY travellers for COVID-19

BEIJING (CNA) – China plans to impose strict COVID-19 testing requirements during the Chinese New Year holiday season, when tens of millions of people are expected to travel, as it battles the worst wave of new infections since March last year.

The commercial hub of Shanghai reported its first locally transmitted cases in two months yesterday, underscoring the growing risk of the virus spreading elsewhere.

Millions of people in the province of Hebei surrounding Beijing and the northeastern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang have been put into lockdown in recent weeks.

Authorities are asking people to stay home during the February holiday season in their effort to prevent another debilitating outbreak. New curbs are also being adopted by local governments in areas that have not yet suffered major outbreaks, including one southwestern city that has barred entry to overseas foreigners.

Some 144 new cases were reported on Wednesday, the National Health Commission (NHC) said, matching the total reported on January 14 and marking the highest number of daily infections since March 1, 2020. This still remains a fraction of what China saw during the height of the outbreak in January to February last year, however.

Of the 126 new local infections, Heilongjiang accounted for 68 while Jilin reported 33. Hebei, which had so far seen the biggest spike in cases this month, reported 20 new cases, and Beijing reported two cases.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed infections, rose to 113 from 58 a day earlier.

In a notice posted online, China’s National Health Commission said people returning to rural areas from other provinces over the Chinese New Year period would have to produce a negative COVID-19 test taken within seven days.