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China Reports 169 New Coronavirus Cases — Highest In 5 Weeks

China is reporting its highest number of new coronavirus cases in more than five weeks, saying most of them originated abroad.

Officials said Monday that mainland China had 169 new confirmed cases of infection, with 61 of them described as "asymptomatic" COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The government said 98 of the cases were "imported" by people arriving from abroad. The total figure represents the highest number of new cases since March 6.

The increase has sparked concern about a second wave of infections in China, which was the original epicenter of the pandemic. The latest figures in China are just over 82,000, with 3,341 deaths, according to data released Monday by the National Health Commission. By comparison, the U.S. has the largest number of cases in the world — nearly 560,000 and more than 22,000 deaths — according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

China's cases peaked in mid-February, and earlier this month Beijing reported its first day of no new cases since the outbreak was first identified in late December.

But China has been accused of downplaying the severity of the crisis at a time when more candor may have given the rest of the world a clearer picture of what was happening and more time to prepare a response.

President Trump himself has repeatedly blamed China for the pandemic, until recently calling the novel coronavirus the "Chinese virus."

In Global Times, an English-language newspaper controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, an opinion piece lashed out at what it described as anti-China rhetoric and described its rebound from the pandemic in glowing terms.

"For the US, a country which has let the epidemic spin out of control despite clear warnings sent by China, China's anti-virus fight is indeed a miracle," the opinion piece said. "But for China itself, the outcome appears absolutely normal and deserved in view of the government's strong sense of responsibility for people's lives, the governing system's great ability of mobilization and the Chinese people's firm willingness to support all containment measures."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman
Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.