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China marks one year since Wuhan lockdown

China has reported a slight increase in new cases of COVID-19 as it marks the anniversary of the world’s first coronavirus lockdown, in the city of Wuhan where the disease emerged in late 2019.

The National Health Commission said 107 new COVID-19 cases had been identified on Saturday, up from 103 cases the day before.

The commission said 90 of the new cases were local infections.

The northeastern province of Heilongjiang recorded 56 new cases and neighbouring Jilin province had 13. Beijing and Shanghai recorded three new cases each, and the province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, recorded 15 new cases.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 99 from 119 cases a day earlier.

Beijing launched mass COVID-19 testing in some areas on Friday and Shanghai was testing all hospital staff as China faced its worst novel coronavirus outbreak since March, with families fretting over Lunar New Year reunion plans.

Also on Friday, China reported its first cluster of cases among workers in a meat processing plant in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China stands at 88,911, with the death toll unchanged at 4635.

Wuhan shut down transport networks and suspended outgoing flights on January 23, 2020, in an attempt to cut off transmission of the virus.

Life has largely returned to normal in the city of 11 million, with no sign of the barriers that a year ago isolated neighbourhoods, prevented movement around the city and confined people to their housing compounds and even apartments.

China on Friday premiered a documentary film to mark the anniversary of the lockdown, part of a broader effort to cast China’s early response to COVID-19 in a positive light after some suggestions, which authorities reject, of an initial delay.

More than two million people worldwide have died from virus.

Reuters with AP

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