COVID-19 cases continue to increase in China prompting the northeastern city of Harbin to be placed under a semi-lockdown.
The semi-lockdown was implemented following reports of a surge in reported transmissions of the virus that struck the city of ten million people. This is the first time Harbin has experienced a lockdown since early Feb., 2021.
Located in northeast China, close to the border with Russia, the city of Harbin, over three days, reported 30 new cases of the novel coronavirus, after authorities ordered “quarantine and mass nucleic acid testing,” for all people in the region.
The city has called for its citizens to remain indoors until they have received a negative nucleic acid test result. Those who leave their homes for necessary reasons must provide “proof of negative results” date stamped within 48 hours.
The city ceased indoor activities in places such as spas, cinemas, gyms and mah-jong parlours after one case of transmission was recorded on Sept. 21.
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Offline classes at kindergartens, primary schools and high schools were suspended for one week beginning Wednesday Sept. 22. The restrictions were implemented during the mid-moon festival, a time when increased travel and social interaction are expected.
The sudden rise of cases in the Heilongjiang Province has raised alarms, with public health experts stressing the “need to strengthen epidemiological studies” to quell the spreading of the virus in the inter-provincial areas in preparation for the upcoming National Holidays.
On Sept. 21, Harbin reported three positive cases, one of which was detected after a citizen attended a hospital for treatment, while two others — who had returned to China from the Philippines in August — were quarantined twice before being allowed to enter the city.
Areas such as the city of Qiqihar and Bayan county, where the three infected people lived, suspended transportation services and authorities implemented a lockdown in several areas.
Head of the Beijing-run National Health Commission, Ma Xiaowei, said that Heilongjiang Province is expected to keep the epidemic at bay, within the controlled areas, before the holidays arrive.
Elsewhere, in the cities of Xiamen and Putian, in Fujian province, authorities have reported a total of 13 new cases as of Sept. 21, prompting officials of both cities, as well as those of nearby cities Quanzhou and Zhangzhou, to shut down services and inform its citizens to remain in their cities and to only travel if necessary.
According to vice premier Sun Chunlan, on Monday, local officials should not be careless regarding the progress in Fujian, where the fight against the virus was still in a “deadlock.” Sun has also called for stricter efforts on keeping communities closed in.
Across the nation, including southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality, north China’s Shanxi Province and east China’s Shandong Province, procedures have been implemented in a bid to identify people who have recently traveled to Harbin. Those identified will be subject to testing and quarantine.
Xiamen is also in the middle of fighting a domestic outbreak. To date, two rounds of nucleic acid testing have been completed in the city.
In the Tongan district authorities distributed a notice to all residents notifying them of a 1,000-yuan bounty (US$155.00) on those who have avoided nucleic acid testing, rewarding citizens who report said “offenders.”