China facing ‘worst Covid breakout since Wuhan’ after huge Delta variant spike

China is facing a surge in the Delta variant which has spread to five provinces including Beijing and is threatening the worst Covid outbreak in the country since Wuhan.

It was first reported in Nanjing in Jiangsu province with the whole area now in a strict lockdown.

The initial cases were found at Nanjing Lukou International airport on July 20, with workers and cleaners of a plane from Russia coming down with Covid, said Ding Jie, deputy director of disease control and prevention in the city.

China’s state news agency Xinhua news has said that the workers did not follow strict hygiene rules.

"After their work was complete, due to cleaning and protective measures not meeting standards, it’s possible some staffers got infected, causing the virus to spread among cleaning staff," Ding reportedly said.

Mr Ding also said that 53 cases from the outbreak had the Delta variant.

As part of the lockdown, all flights from Nanjing airport have now been suspended until August 11 and more testing is underway in the city.

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New restrictions have also been put in place such as the prevention of large gatherings with 13 new cases of the variant on Thursday in Nanjing which brings the total to 184 since July 20.

Overall there have been 64 new cases in China on Thursday, with 49 the previous day.

Posts on social media show long lines of people queuing, while authorities having reportedly also urged people to wear masks, stand one metre apart and avoid talking while they wait.

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The aim is to have everyone of the 9.3million inhabitants of the city tested, using the nucleic acid testing campaign, Xinhua has said.

China had a total of 92,875 COVID-19 cases that have been confirmed and its death toll is 4,636.

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