China’s coronavirus cases hit a seven-month high on Tuesday, after a cluster at a test site drove up numbers as the Delta variant challenges Beijing’s grip on the pandemic. This has added to concerns over an economic slowdown in the country. State media has described the current outbreak — which has sparked local lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions — as the most severe since the virus emerged in the central city of Wuhan.
Authorities had brought domestic infections down to virtually zero, allowing economic activity to rebound albeit with tight border restrictions. But now, cases are rising. The National Health Commission on Monday reported 94 locally transmitted symptomatic infections. On Tuesday, Chinese health authorities reported 143 new coronavirus infections — 108 of them locally transmitted. Dozen National Health Commission s of cases came from a Covid-19 testing site in eastern Yangzhou city. In a sign of the anxiety over even relatively minor outbreaks, several officials have been issued warnings for mishandling mass testing, which city authorities said allowed the virus to spread. The latest surge started after infections among airport cleaners in neighbouring Nanjing city sparked a chain of cases across the country. The rapid spread of coronavirus in recent weeks has become the biggest test for China’s strategy of attempting to eradicate the virus. Authorities are now working to shore up confidence that the latest resurgence is controllable.