BEIJING: Chinese health authorities on Thursday (Mar 18) reported the country's first locally transmitted COVID-19 case since Feb 14. The case was detected in a health worker in Xi'an city in northwestern Shaanxi province.
The patient works at a local hospital and is responsible for collecting samples from people in quarantine for coronavirus testing, the provincial health commission said.
China has largely brought the spread of COVID-19 under control, though infections in people arriving in the country from abroad are frequently detected.
The country has been closed to most foreigners since last March to stem the spread of coronavirus, stranding many foreigners with jobs and family inside China overseas.
But China plans to ease border restrictions to allow some foreigners, including from the US, India and Australia, back in, provided they have taken a China-made COVID-19 vaccine.
The Chinese Embassy in the US said in a statement dated Mar 15 that it would begin to process "visa applicants inoculated with Chinese COVID-19 vaccines".
This would apply from this week to those visiting the Chinese mainland for work resumption, business travel, or for "humanitarian needs", such as reuniting with family members.
The embassy statement said this applied to those who had either had two doses of the vaccine or a single-dose at least 14 days before applying for the visa.
Chinese embassies in other countries including Australia, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Italy and Sri Lanka have published similar statements.
Those arriving in China will still have to face a gruelling quarantine of up to three weeks.