China reports most new COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months

SHANGHAI / BEIJING (Reuters) - China reported the largest daily surge in new COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months as infections almost tripled in northeast Heilongjiang Province, underscoring the growing threat ahead of a major national holiday.
The National Health Commission said in a statement that 138 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Jan. 13, up from 115 cases the day before, the highest jump since March 5. China also reported a new fatality, the first increase in the death toll since mid-May.
The commission said 124 of the new cases were local infections, of which 81 were reported in Hebei Province near Beijing and 43 in northeastern Heilongjiang Province.
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Although the daily spike in COVID-19 cases in recent days is only a tiny fraction of what the country saw at the height of the pandemic in early 2020, China took more than 28 million people under in January as part of an aggressive package Quarantine put measures to contain the spread of the disease.
The new wave of infections comes before the New Year holidays next month, when hundreds of millions of people normally travel to their hometowns. The resurgence of COVID-19 has already led some provinces to discourage travel, which could result in reduced travel and dampen consumption during the long hiatus.
The Heilongjiang Health Department on Thursday encouraged 37.5 million residents to spend the upcoming New Year holidays in the province and avoid unnecessary travel.
The number of new asymptomatic cases that China does not classify as confirmed cases rose to 78 from 38 the previous day.
The total confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 87,844, while the death toll rose by one to 4,635.
(Reporting by Jing Wang and David Stanway in Shanghai and Ryan Woo in Beijing; writing by Se Young Lee; editing by Shri Navaratnam and Michael Perry)

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