China reports 55 new COVID-19 cases as Delta variant spreads from Nanjing

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Medical worker collects a swab for nucleic acid testing at a sports centre in Nanjing

BEIJING (Reuters) -China on Saturday reported 55 new coronavirus cases on the mainland for July 30, compared with 64 cases a day earlier, as the Delta variant spreads across the country during the summer holiday.

Thirty of the new infections were local cases, compared with 21 the previous day, the National Health Commission said in a statement. There were no new deaths.

The other 25 cases originated overseas.

A majority of the local cases were reported in Jiangsu province where Nanjing, its provincial capital, is facing an outbreak of the COVID-19 Delta variant this month traced to airport workers who cleaned a plane which arrived from Russia.

Nanjing has reported 190 locally transmitted cases since July 20, while there has been a total of 262 cases across the country, figures released on Saturday showed.

The Nanjing outbreak has spread to other cities in Jiangsu, to the country's capital Beijing, and to other provinces including Anhui, Sichuan, Liaoning, Guangdong and Hunan.

Suzhou, a major city in Jiangsu, announced on Saturday it is shutting all games parlours for chess, cards and mahjong, after several people in another Jiangsu city caught the virus while playing in one such parlour.

To curb the outbreak in Beijing, some schools in the city have asked students on summer vacation to return to Beijing at least 14 days before the autumn semester starts on August 15, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

Zhengzhou, a provincial city in Henan province hit by heavy floods this month, announced on Saturday that people must test negative for COVID-19 before leaving the city. It also reported one asymptomatic case, its first in months.

Some who contracted the Delta variant in Nanjing had been vaccinated, official data showed.

"On the whole, the various variants can be controlled with current vaccines," Shao Yiming, researcher at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention told a media briefing on Saturday, adding that no vaccine can prevent infections 100%.

China had administered over 1.6 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of July 30.

The vaccinated included 150 million people above the age of 60 and 12 million youth 12-17 years old, a health authority official said.

As of July 30, mainland China had a total of 92,930 confirmed coronavirus cases and its death toll stood at 4,636.

(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian and Roxanne Liu; editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Jason Neely)

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