China sees fall in new COVID-19 cases amid strict local lockdowns

Saturday's toll included 65 domestic cases

  
Health workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) stand inside a locked down portion of the Jordan residential area to contain a new outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Hong Kong, China January 23, 2021.

Health workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) stand inside a locked down portion of the Jordan residential area to contain a new outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Hong Kong, China January 23, 2021.

Reuters/Tyrone Siu

BEIJING- China reported 80 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, mostly in the northeast where some residents complained they were short of food amid an ongoing local lockdowns, down from Friday's 107.

The numbers pale in comparison to many countries, where new daily infections can measure in the thousands, but the world's most populous country is determined to keep the spread in check ahead of next month's Lunar New Year holiday when millions travel to their home provinces.

Saturday's toll included 65 domestic cases, with more than half in the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin.

China, which this weekend marked the anniversary of the world's first coronavirus lockdown in the central city of Wuhan, is facing its worst wave of local cases since March last year.

The virus was first identified in Wuhan at the end of 2019.

Some residents in Tonghua, a city of about 2 million in northeastern Jilin province which has been locked down since Jan. 18, complained on social media that the lockdown had left them short of food and medicines, triggering an apology from local officials.

"We will do our best to improve the distribution capacity and supplement the supply of materials for citizens," Jiang Haiyan, Tonghua deputy mayor, told a media briefing on Sunday.

Efforts to tackle the outbreak had caused a shortage of manpower, she added.

Lockdowns in other parts of the country have also caused a rise in food prices. 

More cases were also confirmed at a chicken processing plant in Harbin city which last week reported a small cluster. It had 20 confirmed cases and 59 asymptomatic cases by Sunday, reported Xinhua. 

The total number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 92 on Saturday from 99 cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 88,991, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,635.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton. Additional reporting by Ma Rong; Editing by Daniel Wallis) ((dominique.patton@thomsonreuters.com;))

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