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China daily local symptomatic COVID cases more than triple

Mainland China reported 1,807 new local symptomatic COVID-19 cases on Sunday, more than triple the caseload of the previous day, and the highest in about two years, as surging infections in a northeastern province squeeze health resources.

The number of domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms reported for Saturday rose sharply from 476 the previous day, data from the National Health Commission showed on Sunday. The 1,807 daily count included 114 initially classified as asymptomatic who developed symptoms later on Saturday.

China’s current case count is far fewer than those of many other countries, but the growing number could complicate Beijing’s “dynamic-clearance” ambition to suppress contagion as quickly as possible.

Omicron has prompted health authorities to allow the general public to buy rapid self-test kits for the first time to help detect infections quickly, as some experts said China’s earlier testing strategy based on nucleic acid test that requires medical workers to take samples has become harder with the fast-spreading variant.

The northeastern province of Jilin reported 1,412 new local symptomatic cases on Saturday, accounting for 78% of the national total and up from 134 a day earlier.

“[The increase] showed that some local areas, facing a rapid rise of epidemic, lacked the capacity to expand medical resources, resulting in limited admission of infections to centralized facilities within a short period of time,” a Jilin provincial official told a news briefing on Sunday.

There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll at 4,636. As of March 12, mainland China had reported 115,466 cases with confirmed symptoms, including both local ones and those arriving from outside mainland .