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China records highest new COVID-19 cases since April

China recorded 61 new coronavirus cases on Monday – the highest daily figure since April – propelled by clusters in three separate regions that have sparked fears of a fresh wave.

The bulk of 57 new domestic cases were found in the far north-western Xinjiang region, where a sudden outbreak in the regional capital of Urumqi occurred in mid-July.

Local infections were also registered in Liaoning and Jilin in north-eastern China while Hong Kong saw its daily total of cases surpassing 100 for the last five days.

Fourteen domestic cases were also recorded in the northeastern province of Liaoning where a fresh cluster broke out in the city of Dalian last week. 

Two more local cases were found in the neighbouring province of Jilin near the North Korean border – the first since late May. And the last four infections confirmed on Monday were imported from overseas.  

The figure released by China’s National Health Commission today is the highest daily tally of new virus cases since April 14, when 89 cases, mostly imported, were recorded. 

Forty-one of the local infections were found in China’s Xinjiang region with a large population of Uighur ethnic minority. 

Its capital city, Urumqi of 3.5million, reported on July 16 its first COVID-19 infection – a 24-year-old female retail worker – in five months. 

A second wave of mass testing was launched in Xinjiang’s Urumqi on Sunday to detect residents who had previously tested false negative, reported the state-run Global Times, following a mass testing effort earlier this month.

More than 2.3 million people in the city have been tested so far, according to a local press conference Friday.  

Experts still have not confirmed the origin of the recent Xinjiang cluster, which has infected 178 people to date. 

Fourteen native infections were reported in Dalian of Liaoning province, according to the health officials today.

Local authorities have rolled out mass testing for all 6million residents in the major port city to stamp out a fresh COVID-19 outbreak.

Dalian officials last week reported its first local infection in nearly four months, a 58-year-old male employee from a local seafood processing company.

The contagion link from the city’s cluster, which has infected at least 79 people, has extended to eight other cities in four provinces.

Footage released by Pear Video shows hazmat-clad health workers disinfecting the streets of Dalian while conducting mass-testing on residents. 

Residential communities in both Dalian and Urumqi have been placed under lockdown, with authorities declaring a ‘wartime mode’ to combat the virus.

The fresh infections in Jilin were announced just days after President Xi Jinping concluded an inspection tour of the province last week.

The area announced four new asymptomatic cases on Sunday, after screening travellers returning from Dalian.

Another 302 asymptomatic cases in China are under medical observation, health authorities said Monday, and there are currently 331 people ill with COVID-19 across the country, 21 in a severe condition.

Hong Kong authorities said that everyone in the city will have to wear masks in public from Wednesday as they unveiled the city’s toughest social distancing measures yet to combat a new wave of coronavirus infections.

New daily infections have been above 100 for the last five days and the Chinese-ruled city of 7.5 million now has more than 2,600 infections with 19 fatalities. 

‘The epidemic situation in Hong Kong is remarkably severe,’ Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung told reporters Monday as he announced new measures, including a ban on more than two people gathering in public and restaurants only being allowed to serve takeaway meals.

The densely packed financial hub was one of the first places hit by the coronavirus when it emerged from China, but initially had remarkable success in controlling the outbreak. 

Local infections have soared over the last month, however, with piecemeal social distancing measures appearing to do little to stem the rising tide of new cases.

More than 1,000 infections have been confirmed since early July – more than 40 percent of the total since the virus first hit the city in late January.  

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