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A northeast Chinese province bordering Russia has been targeted by health officials after infected overseas travelers there have reportedly driven up the number of coronavirus cases, Reuters reported Sunday.
Chinese officials are worried and fear a rise in imported cases in Heilongjiang province, which they say could spark a second wave of COVID-19, the report said.
Latest figures show a total of 108 new coronavirus cases were reported in mainland China Sunday, up from 99 a day prior and signifying the largest number of cases since 143 infections were reported on March 5.
Officials at the National Health Commission said 98 of the new cases were imported – a new record. Forty-nine Chinese nationals entered Heilongjiang province from Russia and tested positive.
“Our little town here, we thought it was the safest place. Some Chinese citizens they want to come back, but it’s not very sensible. What are you doing coming here for?”
— Zhu, Suifenhe resident
“Our little town here, we thought it was the safest place,” said a resident of the border city of Suifenhe, who only gave his surname as Zhu.
“Some Chinese citizens they want to come back, but it’s not very sensible. What are you doing coming here for?”
A worker packs finished masks in a production line for the Wuhan Zonsen Medical Products Co. Ltd. in Wuhan, in central China's Hubei province Sunday, April 12, 2020. Chinese regulators say ventilators, masks and other supplies being exported to fight the coronavirus will be subject to quality inspections following complaints shoddy or substandard goods were being sold abroad. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
China’s daily infections have dropped sharply from the height of the epidemic in February, the report said, but China has seen the daily toll creep higher after hitting a leveling off on March 12 because of the rise in imported cases.
Chinese cities near the border with Russia are tightening border controls and imposing stricter quarantines in response to an influx of infected patients from the country.
Last week, Suifenhe announced restrictions on movements and gatherings similar to those imposed in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak first emerged late last year, and extended the closure of its border with Russia. Among the additional restrictions, China is mandating 28 days of quarantine for all arrivals from abroad as well as nucleic acid and antibody tests, Reuters reported.
Streets in Suifenhe were nearly empty Sunday evening due to restrictions of movement.