China puts a city of 10 million ‘on lockdown’ to curb a new coronavirus outbreak after a student returning from New York ‘infected more than 70’

A large city in China has implemented severe lockdown restrictions against coronavirus since there was detected a second outbreak.

In Harbin, a Chinese city with a population of over 10 million, more than 70 people were infected with the virus and over 4,000 are being tested. This comes after COVID-19 was believed to be ‘imported’ into the city by a student returning from New York, as Mail Online reports.

The new order includes officials banning gatherings and assigning communities to closely monitor non-local visitors and vehicles in the city. Moreover, they have installed checkpoints at the airport and train stations, where foreigners and other non-locals can be tested for coronavirus symptoms.

In the meantime, China announced that in the city where the first outbreak began, Wuhan, there were only two critically ill patients left. 

Currently, Harbin, the provincial capital of Heilongjiang in north-eastern China, is facing the country’s biggest coronavirus outbreak.

Image credits: AFP

On April 22nd, the government released a directive to instruct further restrictions on its residents, visitors, and inbound traffic.

Social gatherings such as weddings, funerals, public performances, and conferences are halted. Residents are urged to follow the measurements and to use a government-approved health app to prove they haven’t contracted the virus.

Granted that there are confirmed, suspected, asymptomatic cases, all of them, plus their close contacts, will be put under strict quarantine. As for their neighbors, they will be isolated in their homes for a period of two weeks. Furthermore, people who are under home-quarantine must pass two nucleic acid tests, which detect the coronavirus, and one anti-body test, which shows if the person has had the virus before.

Additionally, Harbin’s government stated they have ordered 28 days of quarantine for everyone who arrives at the city from abroad.

Image credits: Reuters

People are afraid of what might happen next when the second outbreak sparks.

A 34-year-old Harbin resident, surnamed Sun, 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.”

On Thursday, April 23rd, Harbin has reported three new confirmed cases, making their local number of coronavirus infected residents 55. What’s more, officials have also registered 21 asymptomatic cases. As Beijing Daily reported, hospitals in the city were arranging 4,106 people to be tested in response to the cluster infections.

Moreover, the Second Hospital of Harbin has stopped operating after all of the 6 cases registered on Sunday were said to be connected to the hospital.

One of the cluster cases began with an 87-year-old man, who had been in two hospitals since the beginning of the month. He was admitted on April 2nd, four days after having dinner with his son’s friends, two of whom later tested positive. The man, surnamed Chen, had infected 78 people, with 55 confirmed, though 23 who tested positive have yet to show virus symptoms.

Image credits: AFP

However, as a reason for putting the whole city of Harbin under strict lockdown, health officials have named Han, a 22-year-old student, who came back from New York.

Harbin Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Han is a Master’s student at New York University whose family lives in Harbin. She arrived in her hometown on March 19, after flying out of New York the day before and having stopovers in Hong Kong and Beijing.

Although Han tested negative for COVID-19 while in lockdown, local health officials said her latest tests indicated a previous infection. It has been said that Han spread the virus to one of her neighbors. Cao, Han’s neighbor, then passed the disease to various others, who in turn transmitted it to Chen.

On Monday, April 20th, the northern region of Inner Mongolia confirmed another case of a person who had stayed at one of the Harbin hospitals at the same time as Chen. At the time, a patient from Liaoning also contracted the virus from the 87-year-old man.

Image credits: AFP

By April 24th, the active coronavirus cases are 915, with 57 critical ones. The total fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic are 4,632.

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