Coronavirus: China has biggest daily jump in cases for five months
World wrap: UAE sees daily cases pass 3,000 threshold for first time
A cook wearing a face mask works at a restaurant at a food court in Wuhan. The spike in new cases comes as a World Health Organisation team of experts investigating the origins of the pandemic is set to arrive on Thursday in Wuhan. Photograph: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty
China posted its biggest daily jump in Covid-19 cases in more than five months on Wednesday, stepping up containment measures that have seen four cities put under lockdown, as the world’s second biggest economy scrambles to head off a new wave of infections.
Most of the new cases were reported near the capital, Beijing, but a province in the far northeast also saw a rise in infections, official data showed, amid a resurgence that has seen more than 28 million people put under home quarantine.
While the Chinese city of Wuhan was the initial epicenter of the novel coronavirus, which emerged there in late 2019, China had in recent months largely kept it at bay.
On Wednesday, the National Health Commission reported a total of 115 new confirmed cases on the mainland, compared with 55 the previous day, the highest daily increase since July 30th.
The wave of infections is likely to put a damper on next month’s Lunar New Year holiday, when hundreds of millions of people typically travel to their home towns. Far fewer are expected to hit the road this year, and many provinces have asked migrant workers to stay put during the break.
A “massive” resurgence is unlikely during the holiday if control and prevention measures are enforced properly, Feng Zijian, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a media briefing.
The spike in new cases comes as a World Health Organisation team of experts investigating the origins of the pandemic is set to arrive on Thursday in Wuhan. The team will have to spend 14 days in quarantine, NHC spokesman Mi Feng said.
Much remains unknown about the origins of the coronavirus and China has been sensitive about accusations of a cover-up that delayed its initial response and allowed the virus to spread. A health expert affiliated with the WHO said previously that expectations should be “very low” that the team would reach a conclusion from its trip.
United Arab Emirates
The daily number of Covid-19 cases in the United Arab Emirates crossed the 3,000 threshold for the first time this week as authorities in the Middle East’s business and tourism hub urged people to accept vaccinations.
The health ministry late on Tuesday reported 3,243 new daily infections and six deaths. That was the highest in the Gulf Arab region where daily cases in each of the other five states have fallen below 500.
The surge in infections in the UAE, an international travel hub, prompted Britain to remove the country from its travel corridors list on Tuesday.
Most coronavirus restrictions have been lifted in the UAE, but social distancing and mask-wearing in public are still required. Visitors have flocked to Dubai during its peak winter tourism season as other countries impose new lockdowns.
The Gulf Arab state has also ramped up its immunisation campaign, ranking second behind Israel in terms of its vaccination rate. Emirati officials have said they aim to vaccinate more than 50 per cent of its roughly 9 million population in the first quarter of this year.
“Taking the vaccine is every individual’s responsibility to protect their health, families and wider society,” UAE Vice-President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is also ruler of Dubai, said in a Twitter post on Tuesday.
The UAE has approved the vaccine developed by Sinopharm’s China National Pharmaceutical Group and has made it available to the general public. Dubai emirate is inoculating people with the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTec.
The UAE is participating in Phase III trials for the Sinopharm vaccine and for Russia’s Sputnik V shot.
In total, the UAE has recorded 236,225 infections and 717 deaths. The total for the six Gulf Arab states stands at more than 1.12 million coronavirus cases, with Saudi Arabia holding the highest individual count at 364,096.
Japan has expanded a coronavirus state of emergency for seven more prefectures, affecting more than half the population as infections spread across the country.
Prime minister Yoshide Suga’s announcement came less than a week after his January 7th emergency declaration for Tokyo and three nearby regions.
The new declaration adds seven other prefectures in western and central Japan.
The measure, which focuses on requests for bars and restaurants to close at 8pm and for people to avoid non-essential outings, takes effect on Thursday and lasts until February 7th.
Mr Suga has been criticised as being to slow to act as the country’s number of reported infections and deaths roughly doubled over the past month to about 300,000 and 4,100. – Reuters/AP