China reported the highest daily tally of Covid-19 cases in 10 months for Thursday, official data showed on Friday as authorities appealed to citizens to cut down on non-essential travel during the upcoming Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays when hundreds of millions visit their home towns.
A total of 144 new Covid-19 cases were reported for January 14, the National Health Commission (NHC) said, with the numbers pushed up by 90 locally transmitted infections in the worst-hit northern province of Hebei.
The new outbreak is centred in provinces in north and northeast China where more than 28 million people are currently under a strict lockdown.
Of the new confirmed cases, 84 were in the provincial capital Shijiazhuang, including five previously reported asymptomatic cases. The other six cases were reported in the city of Xingtai, official news agency, Xinhua reported.
By the end of Thursday, there were 553 locally transmitted confirmed cases and two imported cases being treated in hospitals in Hebei.
Thursday’s 144 cases marked the highest daily increase since 202 cases were reported on March 1 last year.
China on Thursday reported the first Covid-19-related death since May last year.
Central authorities have appealed to the public to cut down on non-essential travel and restrict gatherings as the country gears up to celebrate the CNY or Spring Festival in February.
Li Wenxin, deputy general manager of China National Railway Group, on Friday said that the pre-sale of railway tickets before the Spring Festival has dropped by nearly 60% compared with the same period in the previous year.
It is expected that the national railway passenger flow during the Spring Festival transport will be reduced to 296 million passengers.
The operator previously predicted that China would see 407 million railway passenger trips during the travel rush, state media reported.
“As the Covid-19 pandemic rages globally, China faces sporadic and cluster cases, meaning that the epidemic prevention and control situation remains very severe and complicated,” said Lian Weiliang, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top planning body.
Meanwhile, China exported 224.2 billion masks between March and the end of December in 2020 to assist the international community in fighting Covid-19, official data showed.
Among the exported masks, a total of 65bn are for medical use, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC).
The country has exported 773 million medical protective suits and 2.92bn pairs of surgical gloves during the same period to protect disease control personnel in the global fight against Covid-19.
China also exported 1.08bn nucleic acid testing kits to provide support for Covid-19 test work worldwide and 271,000 ventilators in 2020.
“We have capitalised on our position as the first country to take the lead in work resumption and the largest supplier of anti-epidemic materials,” said GAC spokesperson Li Kuiwen was quoted as saying in a Xinhua report.