COVID-19 found in Shanghai highly similar to North American

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The local COVID-19 case discovered on November 9 who worked at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai and his colleague who was confirmed the next day in Anhui Province were infected with a virus strain similar to that from North America, Shanghai authorities announced on Monday.

After genetic sequencing, the genes of the two cases were found to be highly homologous and similar to the North American virus strain, indicating that the source of infection was likely imported, Sun Xiaodong, deputy director of Shanghai CDC, said during a press conference held on Monday morning.

On November 9, Shanghai found the first new local COVID-19 case in Pudong New Area, following months without any local infections. The two patients had no contact with any confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases nor any imported cold-chain products or related environments 14 days before they displayed syndromes, said Sun. 

However, both of them entered and cleared an aviation container that returned from North America on October 30 without wearing face masks. It was a closed container with a large amount of shock-absorbing foam and humid internal environment, noted Sun.

Shanghai reported two new confirmed local COVID-19 cases as staff-wide nucleic acid testing in Pudong International Airport was conducted on Sunday, the Shanghai Health Commission said on Monday morning, meaning the total number of new locally transmitted cases amounted to six from November 9.

As of 9:30 am Monday, 11,544 people tested negative for the coronavirus at Shanghai Pudong Airport, which tested a total of 17,719 residents overnight on Sunday after at least seven cases were found to be related to a cargo business at the airport over the last two weeks.

The two local cases are both close contacts of previous confirmed patients, with 52 close contacts now under medical observation as well. 

The airport will further strengthen prevention and control in the upcoming winter months, carry out regular testing for high-risk operators in the cargo area, and arrange for them to receive COVID-19 vaccines voluntarily, the authorities said on Monday.

Shanghai also immediately declared the neighborhood at 126 Shunhe Road in Pudong New Area's Zhangjiang town where one confirmed case was found as a medium-risk region on Sunday. 

Meanwhile, emergency response level was downgraded to low from medium risk for Yingqian village in Pudong New Area, where the first local COVID-19 case was reported. As of Monday, the village has reported no new cases for 14 consecutive days. 

The city has declared several regions in Pudong as medium-risk areas include Xinsheng community in Zhuqiao town and Mingtian Huacheng residential area in Zhoupu town. Residents have been asked not to leave Shanghai but those who must leave will have to submit a negative test certificate for COVID-19 taken within seven days.