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China cities under lockdown as Covid cases rise; oil, metal prices drop

China cities under lockdown as Covid cases rise; oil, metal prices drop

China has imposed a lockdown in four cities including areas around national capital Beijing after 115 new Covid-19 cases, the highest in five months, were reported on Wednesday. Most of the cases were reported in the vicinity of Beijing.

The National Health Commission said that this was the highest rise since July 30. China had reported 55 cases on Tuesday. The commission said that 90 were reported from north China's Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, 16 from Heilongjiang province and one from Shanxi province. One new suspected case was reported in Shanghai.

China has rushed medical teams to Hebei to support local health authorities. A Reuters report says that Hebei province has put three cities – Shijiazhuang, Xingtai and Langfang – into lockdown as part of the efforts to keep the virus from spreading further, while Beijing has stepped up screening and prevention measures to prevent another cluster from developing there. Heilongjiang province has declared a Covid-19 emergency.

Traffic and train services have been suspended in many parts to ensure that infections do not spread in Beijing. As many as 28 million people are in home quarantine as the virus is creating a scare among authorities.

There has been a sudden rise in the number of coronavirus cases in China just as a 10-member World Health Organisation (WHO) team is expected to reach the country to investigate the origins of the virus. China has desisted global efforts to trace the origins of the virus which emanated from Wuhan and spread globally within months in late 2019. Just last week, China had sent back two members of the WHO team from the airport as they arrived to investigate the virus.

The rise in the numbers of Covid-19 cases has impacted the global markets as the prices of oil and industrial metals dropped slightly. China is the second-largest consumer of oil.

The commission said that the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases on the mainland reached 87,706 by Tuesday, including 784 patients still receiving treatment, 21 of whom were in severe condition. Of these, 82,288 patients had been discharged following recovery on the mainland, and 4,634 had died of the disease..