Coronavirus: China reports highest number of new cases in more than 10 months

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China reported the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months, official data showed on Friday, due to a severe outbreak in the northeast that has put more than 28 million people under lockdown.

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A total of 144 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Jan. 14, the National Health Commission said in a statement, up from 138 cases a day earlier and marking the highest daily increase since 202 cases reported on March 1.

The commission said 135 of the new cases were local infections, 90 of which were in Hebei province surrounding Beijing that has been hit hardest in the latest wave. Another 43 cases were reported in northeastern Heilongjiang province, with Guangxi and Shaanxi provinces each reporting one confirmed case.

Authorities are encouraging the public to refrain from non-essential travel during the Lunar New Year holidays next month when hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel during the break to go home or travel.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 66 from 78 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 87,988, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,635.

The commission’s daily count excludes cases reported in Macau and Hong Kong, which are Chinese territories but report their numbers separately. The commission excludes cases in Taiwan, the self-ruled island that China claims as its own.

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