A new wave of Covid-19 cases began at an airport in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province in east China, and has since spread to five other provinces including the Beijing municipality.

With 15 cities, including the capital Beijing, grappling with clusters of positive cases, China is experiencing a sudden surge of the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus, which the official media on Friday dubbed the "most extensive domestic contagion since the virus outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019."

All flights have been halted in Nanjing after a number of airport employees tested positive, according to the city.

The fast-spreading Delta variety, which was first discovered in India, has been recorded in 15 Chinese cities.

Despite the fact that the number of new cases is still in the hundreds, concerns have been raised about the infection's widespread spread across provinces.

The rapid emergence of the cases in Beijing after more than 175 days since the last incidence is causing concern among officials.

The local government of the capital city, which has a population of around 22 million people and is home to top officials such as President Xi Jinping, safeguarded the city for several months in preparation for the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) centenary festivities on July 1.

China has yet to open its skies to air travel from India and other nations, and most international aircraft heading for Beijing are redirected to neighboring locations, requiring passengers to complete a 21-day quarantine before accessing the national capital.

However, the bubble was apparently blown a few days ago when a high-ranking African official and his group tested positive while staying in a premium hotel.

Panicked officials sealed the hotel, putting hundreds of guests and workers on a 21-day quarantine, while hundreds of individuals who came into touch with them are being tracked.

Meanwhile, Nanjing, a city of more than nine million people, halted domestic and international flights on Friday as it dealt with a rash of incidents at the airport, particularly among the cleaning crew. Some 200 coronavirus infections have been documented from there thus far.

According to Ding Jie, deputy director of the municipal center for disease control and prevention, the coronavirus outbreak in Nanjing was caused by a flight from Russia.

Viral genome sequencing of 52 cases in the outbreak revealed that the new cases were very homogeneous, implying the same transmission chain and that all strains were confirmed to be the highly infectious Delta variation.

Another crucial node on the infection chain is Zhangjiajie, a popular tourist destination in Hunan province and the filming location for James Cameron's Hollywood blockbuster "Avatar." Four sick people who had visited the Lukou airport were discovered watching a cultural event with over 2,000 people in Zhangjiajie on July 22.

Two confirmed cases returned from Zhangjiajie on Thursday, according to Beijing.

According to Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, the highly transmissible Delta variant strain contributed to the virus's rapid spread across the country.

On Friday in the city of Xiamen, four persons tested positive for coronavirus in nucleic acid testing, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

A member of an international freight flight crew and his three family members are among those involved.

Many Chinese cities have increased screening for close relationships and identified citizens who have been to Nanjing or other places where confirmed cases have been discovered, as well as tightened prevention efforts.

The sudden and widespread epidemic that began in Nanjing has had a severe psychological impact on the public, with many people lowering their daily protective efforts or canceling holiday plans.

As of Thursday, China's National Health Commission reported a total of 92,875 verified Covid-19 cases on the Chinese mainland. There are 932 active patients in total, 25 of whom are in critical condition. Since last year, the virus has claimed the lives of 4,636 people in the country. As of the reports China has immunized roughly 40% of its population.

The coronavirus was initially discovered in late 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China. It then spread fast throughout China and the rest of the world, prompting the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March 2020. According to the Johns Hopkins University Covid-19 tracker, Covid-19 has infected over 196,794,000 persons worldwide and killed over 4,202,000 people.


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