China's north-eastern province of Heilongjiang has emerged as the country's new epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak after reporting a sharp rise in new coronavirus cases recently. Now, video footage has emerged on social media purportedly showing three individuals lying collapsed on the ground outside a restaurant in the province's capital city of Harbin.

Video of three collapsed bodies outside restaurant

Human rights activist and China dissident Jennifer Zeng shared a video clip of what appears to be three people lying on the sidewalk outside the eatery as emergency wearing protective gear move them into an ambulance. The incident reportedly took place on Hongtu Street in Harbin's Taiping District, as pointed out by Zeng.

"At a restaurant in Hongtu Street, Taiping District, #Harbin #China. Cause of accident unknown. Notably, it was reported that one person in Harbin has infected 78 others recently, and one of the 78 persons infected by him has been to a similar restaurant on Apr 3," Zeng captioned the clip, before adding that it is not yet known whether the restaurant in the clip is the same one that the infected person visited.

Spread via restaurant's air-conditioning?

Recently, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention published a study that claims coronavirus can spread easily via air-conditioning after one person infected nine others in a Chinese restaurant. Researchers investigated an incident where 10 individuals belonging to three different families were diagnosed with COVID-19 after visiting the same restaurant in Guangzhou, China.

Figure
Sketch showing arrangement of restaurant tables and air conditioning airflow at site of outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus disease, Guangzhou, China, 2020. Red circles indicate seating of future case-patients; yellow-filled red circle indicates index case-patient. nc.cdc.gov

Researchers found that droplets can only travel a short distance and remain in the air for a short period of time and since there was a distance of one metre between each table, the restaurant's air-conditioning could be the potential route of droplet transmission that caused the outbreak/ They concluded that strong airflow from the air-conditioner could have helped in transmission from one table to another.

People are 'dropping like flies' in Harbin

It is also not clear whether the people in the video have collapsed due to coronavirus infections or are victims of an accident but the video comes days after another individual was found collapsed on the street in Harbin's Maples International area, as previously reported.

In January, similar footage of infected men and women dropping on the streets "like flies" had emerged out of Wuhan, before the deadly COVID-19 virus spread rampantly around the world and evolved into a global pandemic that has infected more than 2.6 million people and claimed over 183,400 lives.

Super-spreader at the centre of Harbin's coronavirus outbreak

A Chinese student studying in the United States is reportedly responsible for triggering a cluster of new coronavirus cases in Harbin involving dozens after flying back home from New York, Chinese media reported.

The 22-year-old female, surnamed Han, has infected more than 70 people while more than 4,000 are being tested in the Heilongjiang capital after she "imported" the deadly virus into the city, according to Southern Urban Daily.

Coronavirus
Xinhua/IANS

Although an 87-year-old man, identified as Chen, has been linked to a majority of the infections in the city, health officials in Harbin have traced the outbreak back to Han. Although the student tested negative for COVID-19 during isolation, health officials said her recent tests showed she had antibodies of coronavirus, which indicates a previous infection.

Officials believe Han, billed as a "super-spreader" triggered the chain of infections by spreading the deadly pathogen to one of her neighbours, who then passed it on to others, including Mr. Chen.