China reports coronavirus cluster in Xinjiang
In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is reportedly planning to tighten lockdown restrictions
Shanghai — As cases of Covid-19 infections rise in the US, the EU and UK, China reported its highest number of asymptomatic Covid-19 infections in nearly seven months in the northwestern region of Xinjiang on Monday.
Health authorities found 137 asymptomatic cases on Sunday during a drive to test 4.75-million people in the Kashgar area linked to an asymptomatic infection in a 17-year-old female garment factory worker reported on Saturday.
It was not clear how the teenager was infected though the official Xinhua news agency said all of the new cases were linked to another garment factory where the patient's parents work. The parents had not tested positive for the virus, however, it said.
The teenager's infection was discovered during routine weekly testing in Xinjiang for what Xinhua called key groups of people. It did not specify who was in those groups or why she was among those tested.
A total of 20 new confirmed and 161 new asymptomatic cases were reported in the mainland on Sunday, the National Health Commission said in a statement.
The number of new symptomless infections was the highest since China began reporting daily counts of those cases on April 1.
More than 2.84-million people in the Kashgar area had been tested as of Sunday afternoon with the rest expected to be completed by Tuesday.
In Germany, Bild newspaper reported on Monday that Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning a “lockdown light” that will focus on closing bars, restaurants and public events to slow a second wave of Covid-19 infections.
Shops will stay open, with some restrictions, under the plan and schools will keep operating, apart from in areas with particularly high numbers of cases, the report says.
A government spokesperson declined to confirm the report.
Infections have almost doubled in the past week in Germany and cases are also rising across Europe.
But Merkel is eager to avoid a second total national lockdown that might threaten a fragile recovery in Europe's largest economy.
Government sources quoted Merkel as saying that the situation was “very, very serious” and without additional containment measures the number of daily new cases could reach 30,000 next week.”
Germany's Covid-19 situation remains less serious than in other major European countries including Britain, France and Spain. France, which has imposed overnight curfews on major cities, reported a record 52,010 new confirmed infections on Sunday.
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