Five new cases of the coronavirus were reported in China’s Wuhan city, sparking fresh concern as the infections were reported almost a month after restrictions were lifted, Reuters reported on Monday. Wuhan is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed over 4,633 people in the country and over 2.83 lakh people globally.
On Sunday, the country’s national health commission reported 17 new cases, according to The Guardian. This was the highest daily increase since April 28. The new cases included a cluster of five infections in Wuhan, another cluster of five cases in three provinces that border Russia or North Korea, and seven “imported cases” that involved travellers in Inner Mongolia.
The cluster of infections in Wuhan consisted of five people from the same compound. It included the wife of an 89-year-old person who had tested positive for the virus the previous day. The 89-year-old man was the first confirmed case in Wuhan since April 3, according to Chinese state media CGTN.
The latest cases reported were previously classified as asymptomatic – people who test positive for the virus and can infect others but do not show clinical signs of the infection such as fever. The number of asymptomatic cases in China is not yet known. They only appear on the health officials’ radar when they show positive during tests that are conducted as part of health checks.
Wuhan lifted its lockdown and opened highway tolls, flights and train services after almost 76 days in April. In April, China reported fewer cases than the thousands it had confirmed each day in February.
The Chinese authorities on Sunday also reclassified Shulan as a high risk zone. It is now the only place in China to have this classification as authorities had downgraded all regions to low or medium risk last week.
Of Sunday’s 17 new cases, three locally transmitted cases were reported in Jilin province and one each in Heilongjiang and Liaoning provinces. Shulan city is a part of Jilin province and had reported cases on Saturday as well.
Officials have now ordered the temporary closure of all public places in Shulan. This included sports facilities, cinema halls and libraries. Residents have also been asked to stay home except under “unusual circumstances” and public transport and taxi services have been suspended in the city.
In the past few weeks, China closed borders and imposed social restrictions on areas bordering Russia, after some people who returned to China by road were diagnosed with the coronavirus.