China’s city Kashgar finds 137 new asymptomatic virus infections

(Reuters) – China detected 137 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases on Sunday in Kashgar city in the northwestern region of Xinjiang after one person was found to have the virus the previous day – the first local new cases for 10 days in mainland China.

All 137 new cases were linked to a garment factory.

The parents of a 17-year-old girl who was found on Saturday to have the virus but who also showed no symptoms worked there, an official from Xinjiang health commission told a press briefing.

The new cases marked mainland China’s first local infections since Oct 14, when one was detected in Qingdao.

Xinjiang was the site of a local cluster in August, but no new cases had been found in the region since Aug 15.

Kashgar launched a testing programme on Saturday night covering the region’s 4.75 million people.

As of Sunday afternoon, more than 2.84 million people had been tested and the rest would be covered within two days, the city government said in a statement.

The Kashgar government said on Sunday all schools except universities will be closed through Friday but supermarkets and shopping malls would remain open.

China’s national health commission dispatched experts on Sunday to guide coronavirus control work in Kashgar.

As of Saturday, mainland China had 85,790 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said.

The Covid-19 death toll stands at 4,634.