April 8 (UPI) -- A Chinese city in southern Yunnan Province is under lockdown and its top official has been fired after more than 100 cases of COVID-19 were reported in recent days, according to state media.
Xinhua news agency reported Thursday Gong Yunzun, the Communist Party chief in the city of Ruili, was removed for "serious dereliction of duty" and failure to control multiple outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.
Gong is being penalized for three waves of COVID-19 infections in half a year. The most recent outbreak began on March 29 and "seriously impacted the overall situation of the epidemic prevention and control in the whole country and the province."
The dismissal is a warning to other party officials. According to Sina News, Yunnan Province's Commission for Discipline Inspection said officials are to learn "profound lessons" from the incident and engage in self-criticism.
Ruili is a major hub in an area of China that also borders Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos. There have been 123 cases reported in the city as of Wednesday, according to Xinhua.
China has confirmed fewer than 91,000 cases of COVID-19 and fewer than 4,700 COVID-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Last year, China claimed "victory" over the coronavirus, citing the country's low caseload and disease fighting approaches that included draconian shutdowns of cities and provinces.
On Thursday Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing that the "people of Hubei Province and the city of Wuhan made great sacrifices" in the battle against COVID-19, and that they "made great contributions toward the worldwide prevention of the disease."
Zhao also said Wuhan's economy has "returned to vitality" a year after becoming the epicenter of the first outbreak.
The comments come as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is to co-host a "special global promotion event" for Hubei province on Monday to celebrate regional recovery. Wang has invited diplomats in Beijing to attend the festivities, according to state media.