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COVID-19 cases more than double in southeast China as Delta spreads

BEIJING, Sept 14 (Reuters) – New local COVID-19 infections more than doubled in China’s southeastern province of Fujian, health authorities said on Tuesday, prompting officials to quickly roll out measures including travel restrictions to halt the spread of the virus.

The National Health Commission said 59 new locally transmitted cases were reported for Sept. 13, up from 22 infections a day earlier. All of them were in Fujian.

In just four days, a total of 102 community infections have been reported in Fujian, a province bordered by Zhejiang to the north and Guangdong to the south.

The infections come ahead of the week-long National Day holiday starting on Oct. 1, a major tourist season. The last domestic outbreak in late July to August disrupted travel, hitting the tourism, hospitality and transportion sectors.

Fujian’s outbreak began in Putian, a city of 3.2 million, with the first case reported on Sept. 10. Preliminary tests on samples from some Putian cases showed patients had contracted the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The virus has since spread south to the scenic coastal city of Xiamen, which reported 32 new cases of community transmission for Sept. 13 compared with just one infection a day earlier.

Like Putian, Xiamen has locked down some areas of higher virus risk, cut offline classes at kindergartens, primary schools and high schools, closed public venues such as cinemas, gyms and bars, and told residents not to leave the city for non-essential reasons.

The first patient in the Xiamen cluster was a close contact of a case in Putian, Xiamen health authorities said late on Monday.

The two cities, however, are yet to announce tough city-wide lockdowns as seen in early 2020 in China.

Three new cases of community transmission were also reported in nearby Quanzhou city, versus six infections a day earlier.

One district in Quanzhou, where many of the cases work in or have visited Putian, has halted bus services, shut some public venues, suspended dining at restaurants, and required residents to avoid unnecessary trips out of the district.

Overall, mainland China reported 92 new confirmed coronavirus cases for Sept. 13, including imported infections, compared with 49 a day earlier.

China reported 20 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases, which it does not classify as confirmed infections, compared with 28 a day earlier.

No new deaths were reported.

As of Sept. 13, mainland China had recorded 95,340 confirmed cases, with the cumulative death toll unchanged at 4,636.

Reporting by Ryan Woo, Roxanne Liu and Liangping Gao; Editing by Stephen Coates

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