COVID-19 cases in southeast China more than double as Delta spreads

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Residents register to take nucleic acid tests at a testing site in Quanzhou, following new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Fujian province, China September 13, 2021. China Daily

New local COVID-19 infections more than doubled in China’s southeastern province of Fujian, health authorities said on Tuesday, prompting officials to quickly roll out measures including travel restrictions to halt the spread of the virus.

The National Health Commission said 59 new locally transmitted cases were reported for Sept. 13, up from 22 infections a day earlier. All of them were in Fujian, a province bordered by Zhejiang to the north and Guangdong to the south.

In just four days, a total of 102 community infections have been reported in three Fujian cities, including Xiamen, a tourist and transport hub with a population of 5 million.

The infections come ahead of the week-long National Day holiday starting on Oct. 1, a major tourist season. The last domestic outbreak in late July to August disrupted travel, hitting the tourism, hospitality and transportion sectors.

Fujian’s outbreak began in Putian, a city of 3.2 million, with the first case reported on Sept. 10. Preliminary tests on samples from some Putian cases showed patients had contracted the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The virus has since spread south to Xiamen, which reported 32 new cases of community transmission for Sept. 13 compared with just one infection a day earlier.

“The Putian government is a big client of ours,” said a staff at a Xiamen building survey firm, declining to be named.

“About half of our company went to Putian last week. They are now isolated at home, while the rest have gone to do their Covid tests.”

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