A northwestern province on the frontline of China’s coronavirus battle reported on Tuesday its first cases in nearly three weeks, all involving travellers from overseas, as imported infections started to level off elsewhere.
The province of Shaanxi reported 21 new infections from abroad, as well as seven cases with no clinical symptoms, all travellers on a commercial flight from Moscow bound for the Chinese capital of Beijing.
As the result of a ban on international flights arriving in Beijing, the Air China jet landed on Monday in the provincial capital of Xian, where the virus was detected by medical staff running tests at the airport, and confirmed on Tuesday.
All those infected were Chinese nationals.
New imported infections in mainland China fell to four cases on Monday, the National Health Commission said, the lowest since March 12, after Chinese authorities cut back on international flights and severely restricted arrivals of foreigners.
Despite the curbs, the arrival of imported cases has proved difficult to predict, although in the last 14 days, Chinese citizens returning home from, or through, neighbouring Russia have made up the majority.
With links by both air and land to Russia, the northeastern province of Heilongjiang has so far taken the brunt of such infections.
Fearing infections from Heilongjiang, authorities in neighbouring Jilin province have ordered quarantine and three rounds of testing for people who have lived in, or travelled to, Heilongjiang’s cities of Harbin or Mudanjiang this month.
Shenyang, capital of the northeastern province of Liaoning, issued similar rules on Monday for people from either city.
Last week, a case in the province’s city of Fushun was linked to a locally transmitted case at a hospital in Harbin, spurring fears of a widening outbreak.
In the fight on cross-border infection, the southeastern coastal city of Xiamen offered a bounty of 15,000 yuan ($2,118), to be disbursed within 24 hours, for key information on illegal international arrivals, including those by sea.
Even remote international crossings face scrutiny.
Hekou, an isolated estuary town near the border of Yunnan province with Vietnam, will bar foreigners lacking certificates of negative tests for the virus.
People wear protective masks as they leave work during evening rush hour in Beijing as the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, China April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Mainland China’s tally stood at 82,758 cases and 4,632 deaths, the National Health Commission said, including 11 new cases on Monday.
Of Monday’s new cases, six were local infections in Heilongjiang and one in the southern province of Guangdong.
Those under observation for symptoms following contact with sufferers numbered 8,791 on Monday.