China tightens controls on Russia border as number of imported coronavirus cases continues to rise

14-Apr-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

China has further tightened its border controls with Russia and is building another backup hospital to counter Covid-19 infections imported from its northern neighbour.

China reported 97 new cases of imported infections on Saturday, the highest single day total, bringing the total number of cases brought into China from abroad to 1,280.

The National Health Commission on Sunday asked the local governments to prepare for countering imported infection over the long run.

Suifenhe, a city in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, said on Sunday it would intensify border patrols and carry out strict quarantine measures and health checks on all people coming from Russia.

Suifenhe sits on the Chinese side of the border with Russia. Photo: Reuters

Suifenhe sits on the Chinese side of the border with Russia. Photo: Reuters

The local authorities also announced a lockdown last week in the city of just 70,000 people

In tightened measures announced on Sunday, all gatherings were banned and train services cut between Suifenhe and Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province.

It converted a 13-storey office building on Sunday into a makeshift hospital with 600 beds for symptom-free patients.

Heilongjiang plans to dispatch 300 medical workers to the makeshift hospital in Suifenhe. The first batch of 24 doctors and nurses, who had helped fight the outbreak in Wuhan, arrived on Sunday from Mudanjiang, another city in the province.

Russia and China share a 4,300km (2,670-mile) border, with checkpoints in Heilongjiang, Jilin and Inner Mongolia.

The spike of infection cases in Russia and the number of travellers crossing the border is putting the quarantine and testing capacity of the border cities under pressure.

Manzhouli, the largest check point in Inner Mongolia, reported 34 new confirmed cases on Sunday, all imported from Russia. Inner Mongolia has a total of 114 imported cases.

Manzhouli’s has four hospitals with a capacity of around 160 beds to treat Covid-19 patients and is converting another to provide a backup facility with almost five times as many beds.

It is hoped it will be ready by Tuesday and will start operations once the other two hospitals’ capacity in admitting patients reaches 80 per cent.

Last Wednesday China closed all land border checkpoints for travellers and has not said when they will reopen.

A statement released by the Heilongjiang provincial government on Sunday dismissed rumours there were plans to reopen the Suifenhe crossing, which is about 200km (120 miles) from Vladivostok, and confirmed that it would stay closed.

Suifenhe has reported a total 194 imported infection from Russia, all Chinese nationals who had flown from Moscow to Vladivostok and then travelled across the border.

The statement warned that similar journeys still “provided an enormous risk of infection”.

In Russia, the number of cases has passed 15,700, including 130 deaths.

A team of 10 Chinese medical experts arrived in Moscow on Saturday afternoon to help Russia fight the Covid-19 outbreak.



Category: China

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