China has shut down gyms and swimming pools in Beijing amid fears the country is vulnerable to a second wave of coronavirus.
It comes just days after the communist regime quarantined a city of 10million people in its north west region near Russia and on Saturday China’s northwestern province of Shaanxi reported seven new imported cases coronavirus, all in citizens returning home from Russia.
A second outbreak would be a setback for President Xi Jinping who is trying to restart the nation’s economy and present an image of power to the rest of the world.
Beijing claims that the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China, where the virus first emerged in late December, is now 82,816. The death toll remained the same at 4,632, with no new deaths reported on April 24.
But there is widespread disbelief at those figures across the globe from Western leaders who accuse Beijing of letting coronavirus spread across the globe while its leaders saved face.
President Trump has hit out at the World Health Organisation (WHO) for colluding with Beijing to downplay its coronavirus outbreak, amid doubts over China’s claim to have only 4,636 dead from the virus.
The people of Wuhan believe the death toll in their city that was the epicentre of the outbreak is 42,000 – not the 3,182 claimed by China.
President Trump is backed by large numbers of politicians amid reports from the US intelligence community that the virus escaped from a lab near Wuhan in an accident involving an intern.
Downing Street has removed China from the list of other countries it uses to compare the spread of the coronavirus – in a snub to Beijing amid widespread anger at the nation’s cover-up of the seriousness of its coronavirus outbreak.
People returning to China from overseas are once again being ordered to quarantine, while health clubs and swimming pools are shutting amid fears of a new spike in the disease.
China has instituted stringent checks at its ports and border points, banning the entry of foreign nationals on March 28, and even diverting international flights from its capital city Beijing.
Still it has faced a continuous trickle of cases brought in by Chinese citizens wanting to return home in spite of risks of getting infected. In recent days, many of these have come back from Russia.
The new cases in Shaanxi were all Chinese nationals who had returned on April 20 on a flight from Moscow that was diverted away from Beijing. As of Saturday, the flight had a confirmed total of 30 cases, and 8 asymptomatic infections, according to the provincial health commission.
No further details were given about the imported cases in Manzhouli in Inner Mongolia. The northern province announced Friday that it would start requiring all international arrivals to undergo a 28-day quarantine, as well as two tests for COVID-19 as well as an antibody test.
It comes as more than 70 people have been infected and over 4,000 are being tested in the city of Harbin after the virus was believed to be ‘imported’ by a student who had returned from New York, according to media reports.
Officials have banned gatherings and ordered communities to closely monitor non-local visitors and vehicles in the city of around 10 million.
Checkpoints have been installed at the airport and train stations, to screen those coming from elsewhere.
Earlier this week, China announced that there were only two critically ill patients left in Wuhan, the former centre of the pandemic.
Harbin, the provincial capital of Heilongjiang in north-eastern China, has been grappling with what is now the country’s biggest coronavirus outbreak.
The government yesterday released a directive to instruct further restrictions on its residents, visitors and inbound traffic.
Before entering any public facilities and residential complexes, people must use a government-approved health app to prove they don’t have the virus, have their temperature taken, and wear a face mask, the notice says.
Residents must follow social-distancing measures. Weddings, funerals, public performances and conferences are banned.
All confirmed, suspected, asymptomatic cases and their close contacts will be put into strict quarantine. All their neighbours in the same building must be isolated at home for two weeks with around-the-clock surveillance.
Asymptomatic cases are those who carry the virus but show no symptoms. They can still spread the virus to others.
Anyone in 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 in the past.
Harbin, Heilongjiang’s biggest city, had already ordered isolation for those arriving from outside China or key epidemic areas.
The city’s government said this month it was ordering 28 days of quarantine for all arrivals from abroad, with two nucleic acid tests and an antibody test for each.
Heilongjiang has been at the forefront of China’s latest efforts to identify infected citizens arriving from Russia, with which it shares a border, to curb the spread of the virus.