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China reports 172 new coronavirus cases amid northern outbreak

Published January 24,2021

China reported 172 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday amid ongoing efforts to contain new outbreaks in the north of the country, health authorities announced.

Of the new cases, 80 were logged in north-east China's Heilongjiang Province along the Russian border, the latest hotspot for the virus's re-emergence following months of largely successful containment, according to National Health Commission statistics.

A dozen cases were also reported in nearby Jilin province, where a growing number of cases have been linked back to Heilongjiang.

All the cases were identified during medical quarantine and mandatory nucleic acid tests, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Hebei Province, which surrounds Beijing, also reported 19 new cases, as a local outbreak that began in the provincial capital Shijiazhuang in early January has continued to fan out across the city of 11 million.

Shanghai and Beijing also reported three and two new local Covid-19 cases, respectively.

The numbers were down on the 206 new cases announced on Saturday, which also marked the one-year anniversary of the 2020 lockdown of the virus's initial epicentre, Wuhan.

The uptick in local infections comes in the leadup to Lunar New Year festivities that normally see the largest annual human migration in the world as millions of people travel home to be with family.

Last week, Chinese authorities urged people not to make "unnecessary" journeys home for Lunar New Year to prevent spreading the latest outbreaks, so far contained in major cities, to rural areas.