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Daily COVID-19 cases in 17 provincial-level regions exceed 2,000

Zhang Wei (1st R), a former tourist from Jincheng, north China's Shanxi Province, registers nucleic acid test information at a hotel in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province, Aug. 9, 2022.  Amid the recent resurgence of COVID-19 in Sanya, some tourists have joined local volunteers in fighting the epidemic.  (Photo: Xinhua)

Zhang Wei (1st R), a former tourist from Jincheng, north China’s Shanxi Province, registers nucleic acid test information at a hotel in Sanya, south China’s Hainan Province, Aug. 9, 2022. Amid the recent resurgence of COVID-19 in Sanya, some tourists have joined local volunteers in fighting the epidemic. (Photo: Xinhua)

China was grappling with fresh flare-ups of COVID-19 on Sunday, with daily cases in 17 provincial-level regions topping an unprecedented 2,000, with high levels of virus transmission emanating primarily from three major tourist destinations — the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the Northwest China and Southwest China’s Xizang Autonomous Region and south China’s Hainan Province.

As of Saturday, 623 confirmed and 1,844 asymptomatic cases were scattered across 17 provincial-level regions. Hainan reported the most daily COVID-19 cases at 1,340, while the Xizang and Xinjiang regions reported 502 and 398 positive cases, respectively, according to data compiled by the National Health Commission.

Health experts reached by the Global Times attributed the high daily increase to the active measures taken against COVID-19 in the regions hit by the epidemic. They said that without the dynamic zero-cases policy, which emphasizes “four early” measures — early detection, early notification, early quarantine and early treatment of COVID-19 cases — the daily spike would be much higher if this wave of outbreaks comes during the Peak tourism season and tourist movements have multiplied the presence of COVID-19 in cities.

Experts also noted that the relatively scarce resources in border regions such as Xinjiang and Xizang could also be one of the reasons for the outbreak’s aggravation, but believed that the resurgence would be tamed soon after experiencing a certain peak period after the aid of the Country gradually became position.

In the two weeks since August 1, Hainan has registered a total of 7,736 positive cases. At the press conference on Sunday, an official from the Hainan provincial government clearly categorized the local outbreaks in all cities: Sanya’s outbreak is in a high plateau fluctuation period, and the increasing momentum has been contained effectively.

Relief teams from outside the province dispatched to epidemic-hit regions have been allocated based on anti-COVID-19 requirements, the official said. So far, more than 17,000 people have come to the island to help.

At the same time, Xinjiang registered a total of five confirmed patients, and the number of silent carriers totaled 2,034, according to Saturday’s press conference. There are four transmission chains and they are independent of each other. The fast-transmitting virus has spread to 13 regions in Xinjiang.

Adding to the difficulties, outbreaks are still developing in several places in the Xinjiang region and social transmissions have yet to be halted, a local official said at Saturday’s press briefing.

The COVID-19 scenario in Xizang also looks bleak. Wang Taobi, an official with the Xizang Regional Health Commission, said at Sunday’s press conference that as of Sunday noon, all of Xizang had registered 947 positive cases, made up of 99 confirmed and 848 asymptomatic cases.

Wang explained that the high daily increase in Xizang is due to the new adaptation of not screening people who are positive in preliminary tests, as well as stronger ways to test nucleic acids.

In addition to the hardest-hit Hainan, Xinjiang and Xizang, the Global Times noted that more popular tourism destinations like northwest China’s Gansu and Qinghai have been hit by sporadic cases. Cities like Dunhuang, where the famous Mogao Grottoes are located, have adopted static management.

A senior expert from China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention told the Global Times on Sunday that the country is sticking to a policy of finding a better balance between economic development and disease control so that the COVID-19 epidemic is not over , it is normal that COVID-19 resurgences with mutant variants tend to be more contagious. The large number of cases from the recent waves of COVID-19 outbreaks in Xinjiang, Xizang or Hainan is a direct result of the tourist influx due to China’s booming tourism market in the summer.

The expert said the high daily surge is not necessarily a bad thing as it indicates the effectiveness of recent measures to combat the epidemic. Given the number of visitors to epidemic-hit regions, the figure should have been much higher, the expert said, assuring the public that this round of outbreaks in the country’s popular tourist destinations will eventually be brought under control. However, judging by the latest cases recorded daily, it will still take some time before the trend goes down, he said.

Lu Hongzhou, head of the Shenzhen Third People’s Hospital, also expressed a positive attitude towards the resurgence of COVID-19, saying that as long as the presence of the virus in a place is detected, the country is able to control it. Compared to other cities that have often been hit by the coronavirus, such as Shenzhen, Xinjiang and Xizang are relatively lacking in experience and medical resources. The joint aid from other provinces will help them fight the outbreaks soon, Lu said.

Although the COVID-19 flare-up has hit tourism destinations hard, they have managed to evacuate stranded tourists as much as possible. Observers saw this as a positive trend in the country’s efforts to optimize the dynamic zero-case policy and make it more scientifically sound and precise.

Hainan has sent more than 14,240 stranded tourists home on 92 flights as of Sunday morning, and commercial operations of domestic passenger flights at Sanya Phoenix International Airport will properly resume from Monday, the latest move to evacuate more stranded tourists back home.

Over 2,000 tourists were still stranded in Xinjiang as of Saturday night, with over 92,000 already evacuated from the 15 scenic spots in Region 5A since Aug. 2. Xizang had added 12 more train services to accommodate stranded tourists, and 193 tourists left the region so far.

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