World

Wuhan to test all 12m residents as Delta variant spreads in China

BEIJING: China's Wuhan city will test its 12 million residents for the coronavirus after confirming its first domestic cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in late 2019, had reported no local cases since mid-May last year but on Monday, the authorities confirmed three cases of the Delta variant.

The strain has been found in a handful of provinces and big cities, including Beijing, over the past two weeks.

"To ensure everyone in the city is safe, city-wide nucleic acid testing will be quickly launched for all to fully screen out positive results and asymptomatic infections," Wuhan official Li Qiang told a news briefing.

China yesterday reported 90 new infections, 61 of which were local. It brought the total number of active Covid-19 cases in the country to 1,157, of which 24 are serious.

The new cases in Wuhan, along with infections in the nearby cities of Jingzhou and Huanggang since Saturday, were linked to cases in the city of Huai'an in Jiangsu province, said vice-director of the Hubei province disease control centre Li Yang.

The outbreak in Jiangsu is believed to have begun in the provincial capital of Nanjing late last month, with the Delta variant most likely introduced on a flight from Russia, officials have said.

A Nanjing official said on Monday that even after the first cases were reported there, some shops did not rigorously check customers' digital health credentials and some people did not wear masks properly. Jiangsu officials said the root cause of the Nanjing outbreak was "laxity of the mind".

The tally of local cases in China since July 20, when the first Nanjing infections were found, stood at 414 as at Monday.

Numerous cities in southern China and a few in the north, including Beijing, have reported infections, and the authorities have advised against non-essential travel, conducted mass testing, and sealed off some higher-risk neighbourhoods.

Airports in Nanjing and Yangzhou have suspended domestic flights.

In the central city of Zhengzhou, most of the 13 local cases reported since July 31 were linked to a hospital that treats patients arriving from outside China, with the strain in the first two infections bearing a similarity to that in cases recently arriving from Myanmar, an official said. - REUTERS

WORLD