China has reported 66 new coronavirus cases, the largest since the disease was controlled in its first epicentre Wuhan in April, prompting the authorities to go into a 'wartime' mode to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the capital Beijing which has seen a sudden spike in the number of infections, health officials said on Sunday.
The officials of the China's National Health Commission (NHC) said that 57 new confirmed COVID-19 infections, including 38 domestically transmitted, were reported on Saturday.
Also on Saturday, nine new asymptomatic cases were reported, it said.
Currently, 103 people with asymptomatic symptoms are kept under quarantine.
Asymptomatic cases, also known as silent spreaders, pose a problem as the patients are tested COVID-19 positive but develop no symptoms such as fever, cough or sore throat.
However, they pose a risk of spreading the disease to others.
Of the domestically transmitted cases, 36 were reported in Beijing and two in Liaoning Province, the NHC said in its daily report.
Beijing has reported 46 cases in the last few days, taking the officials by surprise.
As of Saturday, the overall confirmed cases on the mainland had reached 83,132, including 129 patients who are still being treated, with one in severe condition.
Altogether, 78,369 people have been discharged after recovery and 4,634 people have died of the disease, the NHC said.
Beijing has tightened COVID-19 control measures after the newly confirmed cases by local transmission.
Given the new cases, the city has suspended a major wholesale food and vegetable market and strengthened control measures to resolutely contain the spread of the epidemic.
With 46 people testing positive for the novel coronavirus in the last three days in Beijing after a period of lull, officials in the Chinese capital have initiated 'wartime' measures, focusing on a wholesale food market where the new cluster of infections were reported from.
The new cases at Xinfadi wholesale food market has raised concern among the people as it supplies 90 per cent of the capital's vegetables and meat products catering to about 20 million people.
Along with the Xinfadi market, six other markets were closed on Saturday.
Officials in Beijing found the coronavirus strand on a chopping board of imported salmon at the Xinfadi market following which the fish stocks were removed from Chaoshifa market, Carrefour and Wumart stores in the city.
40 environmental samples collected at the Xinfadi market also tested positive.
Testing of some 10,000 people who had connections to the market began after six confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported on Friday, following a single new confirmed case on Thursday.
The new cases have brought a sense of disquiet in Beijing which in the last two months was being projected as safe.
The government went ahead with its ten-day Parliament session and officially relaxed the guard with the municipal council recommending the people to do away with masks.
In response to the emergency, Fengtai district has been put on 'wartime' activity with close management of the 11 residential areas around Xinfadi market.
Officials are manning the area at all hours, according to a media report.
The official media here has reported that China Southern flight from Dhaka to Guangzhou was suspended for 4 weeks, after 17 passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.