China’s has reported 46 new coronavirus cases, including 10 domestic infections, with health experts saying that the increasing number of local transmissions in the country’s northeast bordering Russia remained a concern following the return of Chinese nationals from abroad.
China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said on Wednesday (April 15) that 46 new confirmed cases mostly from Chinese coming from abroad were reported on Tuesday taking the total number of recent cases to 1,500. This included 10 new local infections. Health experts said that the Suifenhe city at the China-Russia border might become another Wuhan amid sharp increase of COVID-19 cases following an exodus of Chinese nationals from Russia.
Also on Tuesday, 57 new asymptomatic cases were reported taking their total to 1,023, the NHC said. Asymptomatic cases refer to people who are tested positive for the coronavirus but develop no symptoms such as fever, cough or sore throat. They are infectious and pose a risk of spreading to others.
The total death toll in China went up on Tuesday to 3,342 with one death reported from the epicentre Hubei Province. The overall confirmed cases in China reached 82,295 by Tuesday. This included 3,342 people who died of COVID-19,1,137 patients still being treated and 77,816 people discharged after the treatment.
Also, as of Tuesday 1,012 confirmed cases, including four deaths have been reported in Hong Kong, 45 in Macao and 393 in Taiwan including six deaths, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Meanwhile, frontline Chinese health experts coping with soaring cases of COVID-19 at the China-Russia border in China’s Heilongjiang province and Suifenhe city which are facing increasing pressure of imported and local cases ruled out becoming China’s next Wuhan where virus was reported in December last year.
Concerns were heightened as Heilongjiang province reported 79 new imported infections of Chinese coming from Russia on Monday through border city Suifenhe. “It was the highest one-day rise in imported cases for the city with only 70,000 people,” the Daily report said.
Neither Suifenhe nor Harbin, cities near the Russian border, which are in midst of an escalating epidemic, will become the next Wuhan as there are no large-scale domestic cases in the two places and their impact on other regions is limited and under control, Yang Yanjie, deputy head of the expert group for epidemiological investigation of COVID-19 in Heilongjiang told state-run Global Times daily.
Yu Kaijiang, head of the expert group for medical treatment in Suifenhe, said that the situation is stable and controllable, as the Suifenhe port remains closed. Heilongjiang province announced on Sunday the passenger channel of Suifenhe border port with Russia would remain closed. “It is normal to have resurgence after a great epidemic as a virus cannot be eliminated completely within a short time,” Yu noted.
The current medical care situation is adequate to cover the current increase in imported cases, Yu said. “We are also preparing back-up designated hospitals, ensuring that more beds will be made available,” Yu said, noting that the testing capability is meeting the demand and reaching 1,000 people per day.
Hao Jun, a researcher from the Heilongjiang authority, said on Tuesday that according to their epidemiological investigation, most of the 366 imported cases from Suifenhe port were infected at the Lyublino Market and Sadavod Market in Moscow, where they worked. Hao said as returnees from Russia share an enclosed space for a long time during their journeys and have close contact, the risk of infection increased. He suggested that overseas Chinese in Russia enhance self-protection and not enter China through Suifenhe to avoid the risk of being infected during the journey.
Suifenhe city has 1,479 people under collective quarantine. Local officials said Monday that 15-20 percent of the people may test positive, the Global Times report said. China has rushed specialised medical teams to border city to deal with an increasing number of COVID-19 cases.