Asia Today: Shanghai outbreak prompts 2 hospital lockdowns

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A worker walks by a specially made steel sled parked alone on the capital popular ice skating frozen Houhai Lake after it was ordered to close following the coronavirus cases surge, in Beijing, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. China is making some of its toughest travel restrictions yet as coronavirus cases surge in several northern provinces ahead of the travel rush for Lunar New Year next month. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

BEIJING (AP) — Shanghai has imposed lockdowns on two of China’s best-known hospitals after they were linked to new coronavirus cases.

Outpatient services have been suspended and Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center and Renji Hospital affiliated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, have been cordoned off, along with some surrounding residential communities.

After months of quelling small clusters with mass testing, isolation and social distancing, China has seen outbreaks grow this winter, mainly in its frigid north. The National Health Commission on Friday announced 103 new cases had been detected over the past 24 hours.

Lockdowns have also been imposed in parts of Beijing and other cities following outbreaks, schools are letting out early and citizens have been told to stay home for next month’s Lunar New Year holiday. China hopes to vaccinate 50 million people against the virus by the middle of February.

Shanghai had six of the cases reported Friday. The two hospitals were put under lockdown after suspected cases were found at them on Wednesday and Thursday. It’s not immediately clear if any additional cases were linked to the hospitals.

Heilongjiang province in the far north reported 47 new cases, followed by Jilin just to the south with 19 and Hebei province just outside Beijing with 18. Beijing itself recorded three new cases.

Chinese hospitals are currently treating 1,674 patients for COVID-19, of which 80 are in serious condition, while another 929 are under observation for testing positive without displaying any symptoms.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region,

— South Korea has reported its smallest daily increase in coronavirus infections in two months as officials express cautious hope that the country is beginning to wiggle out from its worst surge of the pandemic. The 346 new cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Friday brought the national caseload to 74,262, including 1,328 deaths. The agency said 240 of the new infections were from the greater Seoul area, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, which was hit hardest during a weekslong surge in transmissions that began in mid-November. Health authorities have clamped down on private social gatherings since late December, including fining restaurants that accepted large groups of diners. After a Christmas Day high of 1,241, daily new infections have slowed to around 400 to 600 in recent weeks, and officials eased some of the social distancing rules.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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