China reports 49 new COVID-19 cases amid Delta outbreak in Nanjing

A man leaves a booth to after receiving a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination center in Beijing
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BEIJING (Reuters) - China reported on Thursday 49 new COVID-19 cases, down from 86 a day earlier, according to the national health authority, amid an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant in the eastern city of Nanjing.

Local infections accounted for 24 of the cases that were detected on Wednesday, down from 55 the previous day, the National Health Commission said.

Most of the local cases were reported in the eastern province of Jiangsu, it said, where Nanjing is the provincial capital.

Three other locally transmitted cases were in the western province of Sichuan, and one was in the capital, Beijing.

The official Xinhua news agency reported that tracing of the Nanjing outbreak suggested the source was inadequately protected staff who cleaned planes after international flights.

Officials announced the temporary closure of Nanjing Lukou International Airport on Tuesday. The city is conducting its third round of nucleic acid testing, according to state television.

The novel coronavirus emerged in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019 and ever since, China has taken a zero-tolerance approach to infections, quickly testing large swathes of its population and tracing the contacts of positive cases.

Total confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China stand at 92,811, and the death toll remains 4,636.

China also reported 14 new asymptomatic cases, which it does not classify as confirmed cases.

(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Robert Birsel)

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