A northeastern Chinese city which consists of 10 million people is currently grappling to tackle the country's biggest coronavirus or COVID-19 cluster currently, has shut down dine-in services on Saturday with the rest of the country easing the lockdown restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the deadly novel virus.
Harbin, which is the provincial capital of Heilongjiang and also its biggest city, stated that it temporarily has suspended the dine-in services for all the eateries located in the city, reported the official CCTV citing the emergency epidemic prevention notice.
Dine-in restaurants in Harbin city shut down due to Coronavirus cluster
Catering services operating in the city, such as barbecue eateries and those selling skewers, shabu-shabu, and stew, shall suspend dine-in meals until further notice and in accordance with changes in the epidemic situation, the notice said. While mainland China reported only one case on Saturday and crowds returned to some of its most famous tourist attractions for the 5-day May holiday, the northern province of Heilongjiang is hunkering down to prevent further clusters from forming.
Of the 140 local transmissions in mainland China, over half have been reported as from Heilongjiang, according to a Reuters tally. Heilongjiang province borders Russia and has become the frontline in the fight against a resurgence of the coronavirus epidemic, with many new infections from citizens entering from Russia. The province has already banned entry to residential zones by non-locals and vehicles registered elsewhere. It had also ordered isolation for those arriving from outside China or key epidemic areas.
On the back of the outbreak, deputy secretary of the Provincial Party Committee Wang Wentao said at a Friday meeting "we deeply blame ourselves", according to local media. "We had an inadequate understanding of epidemic prevention and control," said Wang, adding that the failure to carry out testing in a timely manner contributed to the clusters.
(With agency inputs)