BEIJING: Authorities in the Chinese capital are ramping up measures like testing and restricting hotel bookings as the total number of coronavirus cases climbed to nine on Saturday, while other parts of the country reported 38 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, according to the National Health Commission.
Five persons who tested positive in Beijing had travelled to Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Shanxi Province from Oct.12 to Oct.15, and returned to Beijing on Oct.16.
Another person was a close contact, according to the municipal health commission.
This is in addition to the 32 cases reported nationwide on Friday.
The spike has prompted health officials in Beijing and other provinces to step up with measures like testing, isolation of communities, cancelling hotel bookings, and the use of sanitisers and masks.
The current spike in cases has been attributed to an elderly couple from Shanghai who flew to several cities including the tourist city of Xian, and tested positive for COVID-19, sending officials on a leather hunt to trace scores of people who came in contact with them.
Within three days of an announcement that the couple had tested positive in Xian on Saturday, hundreds of close contacts of the couple and their five travel companions, who later tested positive, had been identified.
During this period, several cities had rolled out mass testing, a land port stopped operating and popular locations visited by the group were closed for disinfection, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
Such cases causing periodic outbreaks presents considerable logistical and economic challenges to China despite administering vaccines to three quarters of its population.
On Saturday, China said more than 2.243 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in the country so far.