China reports spike in new COVID cases on border with Myanmar

China has reported its highest daily increase in new confirmed COVID-19 cases since January, driven by an outbreak in Yunnan province, which shares a border with Myanmar, where the coronavirus is surging due to the spread of the Delta variant.

Mainland China recorded 65 new confirmed cases for July 19, compared with 31 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said in a statement. That was the most since January 30, when 92 new cases were reported.

Imported infections accounted for most of the new cases, with Yunnan reporting 41 new cases originating from abroad, all of which involved Chinese nationals who had recently returned from Myanmar.

The current bout of cases in Yunnan started on July 4, and has been concentrated in Ruili and Longchuan, two small cities on China’s border with Myanmar.

Ruili, battling its fourth outbreak since the pandemic started, reported seven new locally transmitted cases for July 19, while Longchuan had one.

Ruili is a key overland transit point for Yunnan, which has a 4,000 kolometres (2,485-mile) border with Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The Yunnan outbreak marks the second cluster of infections in China involving the highly contagious Delta strain, following an outbreak in southern Guangdong province in May and June.