China logs largest single day infection tally in over 1 month
BEIJING, Kyodo - China on Monday reported 108 new symptomatic coronavirus cases on the mainland, marking the highest number of confirmed infections in a single day in over a month.
Imported cases accounted for 98 of the total, the National Health Commission said, underscoring why the Chinese government has been so focused on preventing new outbreaks stemming from international arrivals.
The commission said the overall confirmed cases on the mainland now total 82,160, with two new deaths from COVID-19 recorded Sunday in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the outbreak, bringing the death toll to 3,341.
The commission's data shows imported cases from Russia have become particularly noticeable.
Of the 98 symptomatic imported cases detected Sunday, at least 49 were Chinese people who had returned from Russia.
Additionally, the commission reported 61 new asymptomatic cases, eight of which were confirmed in Chinese travelers from Russia.
Seven out of the 10 domestically transmitted cases were in Heilongjiang, China's northernmost province on the border with Russia, it said.
In response to the recent cases in travelers from Russia, the Chinese Embassy in Moscow announced the temporary closure of all land border crossings with Russia last week.
The border city of Suifenhe as well as Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province, said they will step up preventative measures by requiring all international arrivals to undergo four weeks of isolation as well as testing.
Russia had previously closed its land border to incoming traffic from China in January.
After a sharp drop in COVID-19 cases in mid-March, mainland China has seen a small but steady rise in daily infection numbers, mostly attributed to Chinese returnees carrying the pneumonia-causing virus back with them.
Compared to a week earlier, the number of symptomatic cases confirmed daily in travelers from overseas has tripled from 32 to 98. Over the one-week period, the total number of imported cases has grown 40 percent from 983 to 1,378.
China has already indefinitely banned entry of most foreigners and enforced strict quarantine measures for all incoming Chinese in an effort to curb the growing number of imported cases.
As imported cases draw attention, reports of discrimination against people of African heritage have surfaced in recent days.
Africans in the southern city of Guangzhou are reported to have been mistreated and harassed, including being evicted from their apartments, refused accommodation in hotels and tested for the virus several times without being given their results.
African ambassadors in China protested such discrimination in a letter lodged with the Chinese Foreign Ministry last week. In the letter dated Friday, they called for an end to "forceful testing, quarantine and other inhuman treatments," which they say have created the false impression that the virus was spread by Africans.
The U.S. consulate in Guangzhou also issued an alert on Saturday, advising African-Americans to stop traveling to the city, citing discrimination and a local government-led crackdown targeting people of African descent.
The Foreign Ministry responded on Monday with a statement saying it will stay in close communication with local authorities and "continue responding to the African side's reasonable concerns and legitimate appeals."
When asked about the U.S. reports of such discrimination later at a regular press briefing, ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused Washington of spreading lies and taking advantage of the situation to "drive a wedge between China and Africa." (Kyodo)