China rushes medical team to Xinjiang after a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases

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China rushed a team of medical specialists to Urumqi, the provincial capital of Xinjiang, after it reported 40 new coronavirus cases, including 23 asymptomatic infections, prompting the local administration to declare a “wartime mode”, official media reports here said on Saturday.

This is the second outbreak in Xinjiang, the Muslim Uyghur majority province which has been in the limelight in recent months over allegations of the internment of thousands of Uyghurs in special camps. China defends the camps as education camps.

Urumqi reported 17 confirmed COVID-19 patients, and 23 asymptomatic cases in the last four days, the state-run Global Times reported.

The current outbreak is related to a group gathering which is developing rapidly, and local health authorities have advised people not to panic as all the confirmed cases have mild to moderate symptoms, who are also under centralised medical observation, the report said.

The local government in Urumqi, has declared a “wartime mode” as all local residential communities have been put under “sealed-off management” in its fight against the resurgence of COVID-19, it said.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) dispatched a medical expert team on Saturday to Xinjiang to investigate the epidemic amid a spike of domestic COVID-19 cases.

The sudden spike in the number of infections has prompted the local administration to declare a “wartime mode”.

Feng Zijian, a senior official of China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said Xinjiang is now conducting an investigation over the source and route of the sudden spike after 149 clear days of no infection.

Urumqi launched an emergency response plan and set up 15 special groups for anti-epidemic actions, he said.

At the national level, the NHC said on Saturday that it received reports of 22 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland on Friday.

As of Friday, the overall confirmed cases in the country had reached 83,644, including 252 patients who were still being treated, with three in severe condition.

Altogether 78,758 people have been discharged after recovery, and 4,634 have died of the disease, it said.

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