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China reports 138 new Covid-19 cases, highest number in more than 10 months

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China reported its biggest daily jump in new Covid-19 cases in more than 10 months as infections in northeastern Heilongjiang province nearly tripled, underscoring the growing threat ahead of a major national holiday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that 138 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Jan 13, up from 115 cases a day earlier and marking the highest jump since Mar 5. China also reported one new death, marking the first increase in the death toll since mid-May.

The commission said 124 of the new cases were local infections, 81 of which were reported in Hebei province surrounding Beijing and 43 in northeastern Heilongjiang province.

Though the daily increases in Covid-19 cases in recent days remain a small fraction of what the country saw at the height of the pandemic in early 2020, China put more than 28 million people under home quarantine in January as part of an aggressive package of measures designed to curb the spread of the disease.

The new wave of infections comes ahead of next month’s Lunar New Year holiday, when hundreds of millions of people typically travel to their home towns. Covid-19’s resurgence has already prompted some provinces to discourage travel, which could lead to reduced travel and dampen consumption during the long break.

Heilongjiang’s health authority on Thursday encouraged 37.5 million residents to spend the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays in the province and refrain from unnecessary travel.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 78 from 38 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Mainland China now stands at 87,844, while the death toll rose by one to 4,635.

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