Harbin, the capital of China’s northernmost Heilongjiang province, forbid all of its residents from leaving their homes on Wednesday as part of an effort by municipal authorities to contain the city’s first locally transmitted Chinese coronavirus outbreak since February.
“Harbin, known for its minus 30 degree Celsius (minus 22 degree Fahrenheit) winters, on Wednesday vowed to complete an initial round of city-wide testing by Thursday, and told its residents to refrain from stepping outside their homes, unless necessary, before their test results are out,” Reuters reported.
Harbin government officials shut down all non-essential travel out of the city on Tuesday, September 21, after allegedly detecting just three new coronavirus infections out of the city’s total population of 10 million earlier that same day.
“The three patients were all reported in Harbin’s Bayan county and live in the same community,” the state-run Global Times reported on September 21.
Six new zones in NE China’s Harbin city have been determined as medium infection risk areas by local authorities, due to the latest COVID-19 flare-ups in the city, local media reported. https://t.co/g31WBneUn3
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) September 22, 2021
Harbin authorities subsequently “locked down” some areas of Bayan County by September 22, according to Reuters, in addition to suspending all of the county’s bus and taxi services. Municipal officials ordered the immediate shut down of most public spaces across greater Harbin on September 21.
“Public places including cinemas, massage parlors and gyms, private clinics and religious places should suspend their operations and activities starting Tuesday,” the Global Times relayed, citing the municipal edict. “Airports, train stations, restaurants and hospitals should strengthen their daily epidemic control measures.”
Most public venues in Harbin, including “mahjong parlors, cinemas and internet cafes,” closed down by Tuesday afternoon local time, the South China Morning Post reported. Harbin’s government further suspended “face-to-face classes in all of the city’s schools for one week” starting September 22.
Harbin municipal health officials said on Tuesday they had transferred the city’s “patient zero” to the Harbin infectious diseases hospital “for quarantine and treatment,” according to China’s state-run People’s Daily.
The Heilongjiang provincial health commission reported five new coronavirus cases in Harbin on September 22, increasing the city’s infection tally to eight. Heilongjiang is both China’s northernmost and easternmost province. It neighbors Russia along its northern and eastern boundaries and is just one province removed from North Korea.
Harbin’s last locally transmitted coronavirus outbreak occurred in early February, according to official accounts from Beijing. The Epoch Times in June 2020 accused Chinese government officials of covering up coronavirus outbreaks in Harbin earlier that same year after interviewing local residents.
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