Chinese city fighting biggest coronavirus outbreak tightens travel curbs

BEIJING (Reuters) – A city of 10 million people in northeast China grappling with the biggest coronavirus outbreak in the country further tightened travel curbs on inbound traffic on Wednesday to contain the spread of the highly contagious pathogen.

Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, has banned non-locals and non-locally registered vehicles from entering residential zones, according to local state media.

The city has already required people arriving in the city from outside China or entering the city from key epidemic areas be isolated.

Heilongjiang, which shares a border with Russia, has been at the frontline of China’s latest efforts in identifying infected Chinese citizens arriving from Russia, and stopping the transmission of the virus to local populations.

“All confirmed cases, suspected cases, close contacts of asymptomatic people, and close contacts of close contacts should be quarantined and tested,” local state media cited the Harbin city government as saying.

Earlier this month, Harbin said it was implementing a 28-day quarantine measure for all arrivals from abroad, who will be subjected to two nucleic acid tests and one antibody test.

The government will also lock down for 14 days residential units in which confirmed and asymptomatic coronavirus cases are found.

Harbin, which has air links with Russia, reported seven new confirmed cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of local infections in the city to 52, excluding those who have recovered and been discharged from hospital.

Additionally, there were three infected travellers arriving from Russia. About 1,400 people are currently under medical observation for signs of the virus.

Mainland China reported 30 new confirmed cases on Tuesday, 23 of which were imported cases involving travellers from overseas, up from 11 a day earlier.

A total of 82,788 confirmed cases have been reported to date in mainland China, while the number of deaths stood at 4,632.

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