Another surge? China, Russia, Belgium scramble as COVID cases shoot up

China placed a city of four million people under strict lockdown on Tuesday in a bid to eradicate a cluster of just a few dozen cases

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Coronavirus cases linked to the Delta variant continue to climb in various countries, with China, Russia, Belgium and The Netherlands all reporting new clusters of COVID-19 and/or record deaths attributed to the disease.

China placed a city of four million people under strict lockdown on Tuesday in a bid to eradicate a cluster of just a few dozen cases.

The fresh restrictions came as China reported 29 new infections – including six in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province in the northwest.

The latest outbreak has been linked to the highly contagious Delta variant, with the tally hitting 198 cases since October 17.

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Thirty-nine have been in Lanzhou and residents of the city will now be required to stay at home, authorities said.

Strict stay-at-home orders have already been imposed on tens of thousands of people in northwestern areas of Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Ningxia.

In Russia the daily number of COVID-19 deaths hit another high on Tuesday. The surge in infections forced the government to order most Russians to stay off work starting this week.

The national coronavirus task force reported 1,106 deaths in 24 hours, the most since the start of the pandemic. The number brought the country’s pandemic death toll to 232,775.

President Vladimir Putin has ordered a nonworking period between October 30 and November 7, when the country will observe an extended holiday. During that time, most state organisations and private businesses are to suspend operations, with only those operating key infrastructure remaining open.

Authorities have also moved to strengthen the enforcement of mask mandates on public transportation and in indoor venues.

Putin encouraged the worst-affected regions to start the off-work time earlier and possibly extend it beyond November 7.

In Belgium the government is considering re-imposing some pandemic measures that it only relaxed a few weeks ago.

Infections in the nation of 11 million increased 75 per cent to reach 5,299 case on a daily basis last week. Hospitalisations have risen by 69 per cent to reach 102 daily cases. Deaths have increased slightly, with an average of 13 a day.

The situation in neighbouring Netherlands is similar. Authorities there are seeking advice from experts on whether they need to reintroduce pandemic restrictions amid sharply rising infection rates. The Netherlands has one of the fastest rising infection rates in Europe.

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