China sees new COVID-19 cases drop to lowest in a month

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker has her information verified before receiving her second dose of the vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China January 29, 2021. China Daily via REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - China reported the fewest new COVID-19 cases in a month as imported cases overtook local infections, official data showed on Tuesday, suggesting the country’s worst wave since March 2020 is being stamped out ahead of a key holiday.

Thirty cases were reported in the mainland on Feb. 1, the National Health Commission said in a statement, down from 42 cases a day earlier and marking lowest total since 24 cases were reported on Jan. 2.

The commission said 18 of the new cases originated overseas, overtaking locally transmitted cases for the first time in about a month. Out of the 12 local cases, northeastern Heilongjiang province accounted for eight while the neighbouring Jilin province reported the remaining four.

The surge in infections last month raised fresh worries about the risk of another national paralysis ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays this month, when hundreds of millions travel. Authorities in areas where new clusters emerged rolled out aggressive measures, including lockdowns, travel curbs and mass testing, in a bid to contain the disease.

Authorities also continue to discourage travel, imposing testing requirements and offering refunds for trips booked during the break.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed COVID-19 cases, fell to 15 from 16 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 89,594, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,636.

Reporting by Beijing newsroom; writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Gerry Doyle