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22 Apr 2020 | 01:14 PM UTC

China: Harbin (Heilongjiang province) authorities enact entry restrictions due to COVID-19 outbreak April 22 /update 57

China News Alert

Authorities enact entry restrictions in Harbin (Heilongjiang province) amid COVID-19 outbreak April 22; follow authority directives

TIMEFRAME expected from 4/22/2020, 12:00 AM until 5/31/2020, 11:59 PM (Asia/Shanghai). COUNTRY/REGION China

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Event

On Wednesday, April 22, authorities in Harbin (Heilongjiang province), tightened entry restrictions amid China's largest coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, including a ban on non-residents and non-locally registered vehicles from entering residential areas. On Tuesday, April 21, the city reported seven new COVID-19 cases, bringing the city's total number of active cases to 52. The city had previously ordered that arrivals from outside China or other epidemic zones be tested and isolated for 28 days. The Chinese government claims that most of the recently imported cases of COVID-19 were imported from Russia. Some of the new measures include the implementation of quarantine orders for the cities of Harbin and Suifenhe in Heilongjiang province. On Tuesday, April 14, officials in Heilongjiang province announced that a hotline has been established so that residents could report those traveling to China illegally. Additionally, while the border remains open to Chinese nationals, state media has encouraged Chinese citizens to not return to China from Russia during the pandemic.

On Friday, April 17, health authorities in Wuhan (Hubei province), where the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic originated, announced a revised death toll for the city, increasing the number of deaths by 1290, from 2579 to 3869. The number of confirmed cases was also increased by 325 to 50,333. Health authorities stated that the epidemic was now under control and lockdown measures largely lifted. The reason for the alteration in the statistics was reportedly due to miscounting and misreporting in the early days of the outbreak being discovered now.

However, local authorities in Wuhan announced on Saturday, April 18, that those working in sectors with high exposure to the public, including nursing, education, and security, must take a COVID-19 test before leaving the city. Local authorities also stated on Friday, April 10, that they will continue to test residents for COVID-19 due to concerns of imported cases. Since Wednesday, April 8, people have been permitted to leave the city for the first time since a lockdown was imposed on Monday, January 27. Passenger trains began to depart the city and highways were opened to outbound traffic. The restrictions were eased following a reduction in the number of daily reported cases, though residents are still being encouraged to remain within their neighborhoods and avoid travel outside of the city unless it is necessary.

While travel restrictions have eased in Wuhan, strict control measures continue nationwide as of Wednesday, April 22. Authorities have stated that measures have been introduced to restrict nonessential border crossings while those border ports and crossings that were previously closed will continue to be inaccessible until further notice. Border patrols have also been increased.

Foreign nationals, including those with valid residence permits, remain prohibited from entering the country, except diplomats and those on deployments deemed essential by the government. All arrivals in China will undergo mandatory quarantine.

As of Wednesday, April 22, there have been 83,864 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in China, including 4636 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.

 

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