China battles new Covid-19 cluster in Xinjiang

China battles new Covid-19 cluster in Xinjiang

Hundreds of cases in heavily surveilled region is country’s worst outbreak for months

More than 100 asymptomatic coronavirus cases have been discovered in Xinjiang, one of China’s most heavily monitored and policed regions. It is the biggest cluster detected in the country since July.

On Saturday, a 17-year-old girl tested positive for Covid-19 in Kashgar, sparking a citywide testing drive and strict restrictions on movement.

A further 137 infections were discovered on Sunday, each linked to a factory in Shufu county where the teenager’s parents work, according to local health officials.

Rapid testing, contact tracing and quarantine have managed to head off a second wave of coronavirus cases in China, with infections typically detected at the asymptomatic stage. The national daily case count had been in the dozens since an earlier large outbreak in Xinjiang.

The predominantly Muslim region in western China has been turned into a security state in recent years, with ubiquitous surveillance and heavy-handed policing. The Chinese government has interned more than 1m Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in mass camps, many of which are around Kashgar, the heartland of Uighur culture.