Locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in China, authorities confirmed on Thursday, while the number of people to have received vaccine shots has crossed 15 million.
The National Health Commission (NHC) reported 144 new infections -- 126 of them locally transmitted -- on Wednesday, a worrying spike that comes ahead of the week-long Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, holiday from Feb. 12.
A majority of the local transmission cases -- 68 -- were reported in Heilongjiang province, followed by 33 in Jilin, 20 in Hebei, two each in the capital Beijing and Shanxi province, and one in Shandong.
Many regions in these provinces have been put under strict lockdown to stem the rise in infections.
The new cases have raised China’s overall caseload to 88,701, including 4,635 deaths, the NHC said in its daily report.
In all, 82,468 patients had been cured and discharged from hospitals, it added.
More than 15 million people have received COVID-19 shots since China started its mass immunization drive earlier month, the NHC said on Wednesday, the highest figure anywhere in the world.
“The vaccination process has been very smooth. We will continue the work as planned as Lunar New Year approaches,” said Wang Bin, from the NHC’s disease prevention and control bureau, according to daily South China Morning Post.
Authorities are planning to “inoculate children and the elderly across the county to prevent outbreaks,” she added.
“Immigration staff, international and domestic transport workers, essential workers and public service providers had priority in the campaign, which aims to have 50 million people immunized before the holiday,” the official said.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.