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Chinese border city’s Communist Party chief dismissed over COVID-19 outbreaks

BEIJING (Reuters) – The top Communist Party official of a city in China’s southwestern Yunnan province was dismissed from his post due to what the provincial government called a “serious dereliction of duty” in failing to prevent COViD-19 outbreaks in recent months.

Yunnan’s government said in a statement on Thursday that three separate COVID-19 outbreaks occurred within a half-year period in Ruili city, which borders Myanmar, under the watch of city’s party chief, Gong Yunzun.

The outbreaks, including a cluster that emerged last week, “severely affected” Yunnan and China’s epidemic prevention efforts and harmed the province’s economic and social development, the statement said, adding that Gong’s dismissal should serve as a warning.

News of the dismissal came as China reported 24 new confirmed COVID-19 cases for April 7, including 11 locally transmitted infections reported in Yunnan, doubling the total reported a day earlier.

Ruili has imposed home quarantine, launched mass testing drives and began vaccinations in a bid to stop the disease spreading further.

The city is a key transit point for Yunnan, which has struggled to monitor its rugged 4,000 km (2,500-mile) border with Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam for illegal immigration amid a wave of unauthorised crossings last year by people seeking a haven in China from the pandemic.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to six from eight cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China to date now stands at 90,365, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,636.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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