Northwest China witnesses return of Coronavirus cases

The deadly virus outbreak has infected nearly 2.5 million people around the world while claiming the lives of over 170,000 people

A northwestern province located on the frontline of China's coronavirus or COVID-19 fight confirmed its first cases in nearly three weeks on Tuesday, involving travellers who came from overseas.

The province named Shaanxi confirmed 21 new cases of coronavirus from abroad and also seven cases without any clinical symptoms, all the travellers on a commercial flight coming from Moscow bound to 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.

Imported cases in China

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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.

Hekou will bar foreigners lacking certificates of negative tests

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. 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.

(With agency inputs)

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