China reports two new COVID-19 cases, fewest in over five months

FILE PHOTO: People wearing face masks walk on a street following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Shanghai, China January 26, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

(Reuters) - China reported the fewest number of new COVID-19 cases in over five months, official data showed on Thursday, after a combination of robust countermeasures helped stamp out a new wave of the disease in the northeast that emerged last month.

A total of two new cases were reported on Feb. 10, the National Health Commission said in a statement, down from 14 a day earlier and matching the total reported on Sept. 8. Both of the new infections were imported cases from overseas.

China saw a resurgence of the disease in January, when a new cluster emerged in Hebei province that surrounds Beijing and later took hold in northeastern Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces. Authorities in these provinces introduced lockdowns, travel curbs and mass testing in a bid to contain the disease.

Though the latest wave appears to have subsided, travel volumes during the Lunar New Year break that began on Thursday are expected to be down significantly as authorities encouraged people to stay put amid heightened caution about the disease.

New asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed COVID-19 cases, rose to 16 from seven a day earlier, the commission said.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China to date now stands at 89.736, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,636.

Reporting by Se Young Lee in Washington; Editing by Michael Perry