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2020-07-20 10:56:39

Authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are on high alert after 17 new coronavirus cases were reported Monday, taking the total number of confirmed infections in the region to 47.

Of the new cases, 16 were recorded in the capital of Urumqi, which has been shut down since Thursday following a spike in locally transmitted infections. The other case was reported in Kashgar prefecture, though the exact location hasn’t been disclosed.

As of Monday, 96 people in Urumqi had tested positive for the virus — including 46 confirmed and 50 asymptomatic cases. In China, confirmed cases refer to people who both test positive for the virus and show symptoms.

On Saturday, local officials announced at a press briefing that Urumqi had gone into “wartime mode” and asked people not to leave the city unless necessary. Two of the city’s districts — Tianshan and Saybagh — have also been designated “high-risk areas,” becoming the only two areas categorized as such in the entire country.

Rui Baoling, director of the Urumqi Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said during the Saturday briefing that the fresh wave of infections could be traced to a “gathering activity” in the city’s Tianshan District, without elaborating further.

Urumqi has also launched mass health screenings since Friday, first targeting buildings and neighborhoods with infections and later the entire city. The National Health Commission has dispatched medical teams with over 200 health care professionals from other provinces to improve the city’s testing capacity.

Apart from the 17 confirmed cases in Xinjiang, China saw five more infections Sunday, all of which were imported. As of Monday morning, the Chinese mainland had 83,682 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the country started publishing data in January.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: People walk outside a school in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, July 7, 2020. People Visual)