Northeast China's Heilongjiang reported 47 new confirmed cases and 88 asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 on Thursday, the provincial Health Commission said on Friday.
Among the cases, 10 confirmed cases and 31 asymptomatic carriers were detected in the capital city Harbin and all were in some way connected to a local food company, officials said at a news conference on Thursday night.
"Epidemiological investigations showed a clear chain of infections," said Luan Feng, deputy director of the Harbin Health Commission. "All of the 10 confirmed cases are staff members at Heilongjiang Charoen Pokphand Co Ltd and the 31 asymptomatic carriers include 28 staff members and three close contacts."
After receiving the report that a worker at the company tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, the local government immediately closed the factory and conducted a comprehensive screening of its staff members and products, according to Luan.
"Experts from the city's Center for Disease Control and Prevention collected 1,650 samples in the food factory of the company between Tuesday and Wednesday," he said. "Some results from the surroundings of corridors and dressing rooms as well as the food packages came back positive."
Further investigations are underway, he added.
Data also showed that 35 confirmed cases and 42 asymptomatic carriers were reported in Suihua city's Wangkui county, where the first asymptomatic carrier associated with the recent outbreak was reported on Jan 10.
As of Thursday, Heilongjiang has reported 303 confirmed cases and 451 asymptomatic carriers since Jan 10.
Neighboring Jilin province on Thursday reported 19 confirmed cases, driving the caseload to 181. The recent local transmission in Jilin came after the first asymptomatic carriers returned from Heilongjiang, according to the provincial Health Commission.
And seven asymptomatic carriers were identified, bringing the total to 45.