China has put a city of 10 million people on lockdown over fears there will be another wave of coronavirus cases.
Harbin, the biggest city in Heilongjiang province, has banned all foreigners from entering residential zones.
Earlier this month the city ordered 28 days of quarantine for anyone arriving from abroad, with two nucleic acid tests and an antibody test for each.
The city also set 14-day lockdowns for residences where confirmed and asymptomatic cases are found.
Heilongjiang has been in the forefront of China’s latest efforts to identify infected citizens arriving from nearby Russia to curb the spread of the virus.
The city government said:
‘All confirmed cases, suspected cases, close contacts of asymptomatic people, and close contacts of close contacts should be quarantined and tested.’
One persisting cluster in Harbin centred on an 87-year-old man called Chen who had stayed at two hospitals since April 2, four days after dinner at home with his son’s friends, two of whom later tested positive.
By Tuesday, Chen had infected 78 people, with 55 confirmed, though 23 who tested positive have yet to show virus symptoms.
Those infected were mainly family members, hospital patients and their families, and doctors and nurses in direct or indirect contact, provincial health officials said.
Of seven new confirmed cases in Heilongjiang on Tuesday, four were patients who had stayed in the same ward as Chen, while three were healthcare workers at one hospital.
The virus that infected the cluster has travelled beyond the province, with health officials in neighbouring Liaoning reporting on April 16 a confirmed case whose father had stayed at the same hospital as Chen.
On Monday, the northern region of Inner Mongolia reported a confirmed case in an individual who had stayed at one of the Harbin hospitals at the same time as Chen and the Liaoning patient. Harbin resident, Sun, 34, said:
‘I’m not taking my daughter or parents outside anymore. If we need any food or vegetables, we just let my husband buy it on his way back. ‘And whenever anyone has to go outside, he or she will leave their shoes outside the door to avoid bringing back any virus.’
Harbin reported three infected travellers arrived from Russia. About 1,400 people are being observed for signs of the virus.
By Tuesday, Heilongjiang reported 537 local confirmed cases, including 470 discharged from hospital. Besides Harbin, the city of Mudanjiang has two current confirmed cases. Zhang, a civil servant who lives in Mishan town on the eastern edge of Heilongjiang, said: ‘Prevention measures have been more strict recently, and people from Mudanjiang or Harbin will not be allowed to come into our town.’
Mainland China reported 30 new confirmed cases on Tuesday, 23 of them imported, involving travellers from overseas, up from 11 the previous day. Mainland China’s tally of confirmed cases stands at 82,788, with 4,632 deaths.