BEIJING (AP) – Chinese health authorities will test all 9 million people in the eastern city of Qingdao for coronavirus this week after nine hospital-related cases were found, the government announced on Monday.
The announcement interrupted a two-month streak of no virus transmissions within China, although China has a habit of not reporting asymptomatic cases. The ruling Communist Party has removed most of the restraints on travel and business, but continues to monitor travelers and visitors to public buildings for signs of infection.
Authorities were investigating the source of the infections found in eight patients at Qingdao Municipal Chest Hospital and a family member, the National Health Commission said.
“The whole city will be tested within five days,”
China, where the pandemic started in December, has reported 4,634 deaths and 85,578 cases, plus nine suspected cases that have yet to be confirmed.
The latest virus transmissions reported in China were four patients found on August 15 in the northwestern city of Urumqi in the Xinjiang region. All reported cases since then have involved travelers from offshore.
The ruling party lifted measures in April that blocked most access to cities with a total of around 60 million people, including Wuhan in central China.
Qingdao is a busy port and home to companies including Haier, a major home appliance manufacturer, and Tsingtao Brewery. The government has not provided any indication as to whether the latest cases have had contact with travel or business.
Travelers arriving from overseas in China are still required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
– India has reported 66,732 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total to 7.1 million. The health ministry on Monday also reported 816 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 109,150. India has been experiencing fewer new daily cases of the virus since mid-September, when daily infections hit a record high of 97,894 cases. So far this month it has averaged over 70,000 cases per day. Health experts have warned that congregations during major festivals later this month and in November have the potential for the virus to spread. They also warn that the coming winter months should aggravate respiratory ailments.
– Authorities in the Indonesian capital have moved to loosen tight social restrictions despite a steady rise in cases nationwide. Jakarta had previously imposed large-scale social restrictions from April to June, and then gradually eased them. The city reported severe restrictions last month as the virus spread. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said his administration has decided to ease restrictions since Monday as the rise in infections has stabilized. The move came just days after President Joko Widodo urged local governments to refrain from imposing lockdown measures that could cause crippling economic damage in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
– South Korea has confirmed 97 new cases of coronavirus, a modest increase from the daily levels reported last week. The increase comes as officials ease social exclusion restrictions after concluding that broadcasts have slowed following a recovery in mid-August. Data released Monday by the Korean Agency for Disease Control and Prevention brought the number of infections since the start of the pandemic to 24,703, including 433 deaths. South Korea relaxed its social distancing guidelines starting Monday, allowing high-risk businesses like nightclubs and karaoke bars to open as long as they take preventative measures. Spectators will also be able to participate in professional sporting events, although teams will initially only be allowed to sell 30% of their stadium seats.