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Coronavirus

China COVID cases jump as Jilin outbreak grows in northeast

Over 100 international flights to Shanghai will be diverted to other cities

A man gets tested for COVID-19 amid citywide testing in Changchun, Jilin Province on March 13.   © Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) -- China posted a steep jump in daily COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, with new cases more than doubling from a day earlier to a two-year high as a virus outbreak expanded rapidly in the country's northeast.

A total of 3,507 domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms were reported on Monday across more than a dozen provinces and municipalities, the National Health Commission said, up from 1,337 a day earlier.

China's caseload is still tiny by global standards, but health experts said the rate of increase in daily cases over the next few weeks will be a crucial factor in determining whether its tough "dynamic clearance" approach -- which aims to contain each outbreak -- is still effective against the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

A COVID-19 forecasting system run by Lanzhou University in China's northwest predicted that the current round of infections would eventually be brought under control in early April after an accumulated total of around 35,000 cases.

The university said in its latest assessment published on Monday that while the current outbreak was the most serious on the mainland since Wuhan in 2020, China could bring it under control as long as stringent curbs remained in place.

In the financial hub of Shanghai, authorities battling an outbreak across the city were cordoning off individual apartment buildings and testing all residents.

China's aviation regulator said that 106 international flights scheduled to arrive in Shanghai will be diverted to other domestic cities from March 21 to May 1 due to COVID.

Confirmed symptomatic infections in Shanghai stood at 21 on Monday, including 12 imported from overseas, with an additional 130 asymptomatic cases.

Nearly 90% of the mainland's confirmed new symptomatic cases on Monday were found in the northeastern province of Jilin, which has banned its 24.1 million population from traveling in and out of the province and across different areas within the province without notifying local police.

Jilin officials should step up the preparation of temporary hospitals and designated hospitals and make use of idle venues to ensure all infections and their close contacts are isolated, a local Communist Party authority-backed paper said, citing the provincial head of the party.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, stood at 1,768 compared with 906 a day earlier.

There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll unchanged at 4,636.

As of March 14, mainland China had reported 120,504 cases with confirmed symptoms, including both local ones and those arriving from outside the mainland.

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