China Tightens Restrictions on Russian Border as Imported COVID-19 Cases Rise

Chinese cities near the border with Russia said on Sunday they would tighten border controls and quarantine measures on arrivals from abroad after the number of imported coronavirus cases hit a record high, Bloomberg Quint reports.

New daily confirmed cases in mainland China reached 99 on April 11, almost doubling from 46 the previous day to a one-month high. All but two of the newly recorded cases involved people traveling from abroad, many of them Chinese nationals returning from Russia.

In the commercial hub Shanghai, 51 Chinese nationals flying in on the same flight from Russia tested positive while 21 cases involved Chinese nationals traveling from Russia to the northeastern Heilongjiang province.

The border city of Suifenhe and Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, said they would require all arrivals from abroad to undergo 28 days of quarantine, as well as nucleic acid and antibody tests.

Harbin added that it would lock down residential units where confirmed and asymptomatic coronavirus cases are found for 14 days.

Strict lockdowns had contained the disease in China, where it has killed 3,339 people since it emerged in the city of Wuhan late last year and then spread around the world.

Russia had previously halted all flights into China and closed its land border to incoming traffic from China, leaving the route through remote Suifenhe as one of the few options for many Chinese trying to return home.

Suifenhe said on Sunday it had banned all types of gatherings and listed businesses that must suspend operations. It also extended the April 9 closure of its border with Russia which had been due to end next week.

Shanghai authorities have quarantined 92 other passengers who were in close contact with the 51 infected people who flew in from Russia on April 10, the city’s health commission said on Sunday. A 52nd case in Shanghai involved a Chinese national arriving from a trip to Canada.

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