The Chinese authorities have said that Covid-19 infections in the southeastern province of Fujian have more than doubled in the previous 24 hours. Preliminary tests suggest the Delta variant is responsible for some of the cases.

On Tuesday the Chinese National Health Commission said that 59 new locally transmitted cases had been identified on Monday. The figure is nearly a threefold increase over Sunday, when only 22 infections were registered.

The cases were all found in southeastern Fujian province, which is bordered by Zhejiang to the north and Guangdong to the south. A total of 102 local infections have been registered in the past four days, including in the transport hub of Xiamen, which is home to some five million people.

The outbreak has already engendered a quick reaction from the local authorities, with Fujian province sent into lockdown on Monday night. Residents in the city of Xiamen were put under “closed-loop” management – which means people are banned from leaving their local area and all entertainment venues are shut down.

According to the South China Morning Post, more than 1,000 people have been sent into quarantine, including schoolchildren, and the mid-autumn festival has been cancelled. 

The outbreak has been traced back to a first case reported in the city of Putian on September 10. Tests indicated that the virus was the vaccine-busting Delta variant that continues to create new pandemic-management challenges across the world. Authorities in both Putian and Xiamen started citywide testing on Tuesday.

An earlier outbreak in July and August saw the state impose strict measures, citywide testing campaigns and harsh lockdowns. This time the outbreak comes ahead of the week-long National Day holiday starting on October 1.

The repetitive outbreaks are despite China’s considerable progress in vaccinating against Covid-19. To date, the country has administered 2.15 billion vaccines. 

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