China detected 91 confirmed COVID-19 cases transmitted domestically on Tuesday, the largest daily figure since Nov. 2 and a huge increase from 21 cases a day earlier, as the government battles a new epidemic in the north.
The National Health Commission revealed on Wednesday that all 91 local symptomatic cases occurred in the northern Chinese area of Inner Mongolia.
While the majority of the world is now focused on the possible harm caused by the newly detected Omicron variant in southern Africa last week, China remains committed to the increasingly tough work of limiting the virus and maintaining its COVID-19 Zero classification.
It has been over six weeks since there were no reports of local daily infections.
Mainland China has not found any infections caused by the Omicron variant, said Xu Wenbo, a representative for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, during a news briefing on Tuesday.
Inner Mongolia recorded a total of 132 local symptomatic cases between Nov. 28 and 30, with more than 70% occurring in Manzhouli, a tiny city near the Russian border.
The National Health Commission reported Wednesday that all of the newly transmitted diseases were discovered in the city of Hulunbir.
Two more individuals who did not exhibit any symptoms were also positive. All are being held in quarantine as contacts are being traced and mass testing is being conducted to look for further infections.
The latest outbreak originated outside of China and is unrelated to earlier outbreaks in the country, a health official said Tuesday during a press briefing. It is concentrated in Hulunbir, which is bounded on the north by Russia and on the west by Mongolia.
The latest outbreak comes just a few weeks after Inner Mongolia suppressed a cluster that was part of China's largest Delta outbreak between mid-October and mid-November.
Meanwhile, according to a study conducted by Peking University mathematicians, China may encounter more than 630,000 COVID-19 infections each day if it abandoned its zero-tolerance policies and lifted travel restrictions.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's study published in China CDC Weekly reported that China cannot afford to eliminate travel restrictions in the absence of more effective immunizations or particular treatments.
Mathematicians analyzed the potential consequences of China adopting the same pandemic control techniques as those countries using August data from the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, and Israel.
China's daily new cases would increase to at least 637,155 if the country followed the US' pandemic policy, the paper stated.