China reports small wave of virus infections from Russia

Science & Health

Russia, with which China shares its second-longest land border (its longest is with Mongolia), has officially reported almost 20,000 cases of COVID-19. This number has increased rapidly in recent days, though the country reported suspiciously few cases through late March.

Russia’s worsening epidemic is now spilling over into China, and authorities are taking strict measures to reverse the trend. Sixth Tone summarizes:

On Monday, health authorities in the northeastern Heilongjiang Province said that all 49 newly reported imported coronavirus cases were among Chinese nationals returning from Russia…

Suifenhe, situated along the border with Russia, became the first city outside of Wuhan in the central Hubei province to “build” a makeshift hospital from a repurposed office last week. The city of 70,000 residents on Sunday suspended all public gatherings, after having closed its land border with the neighboring country last week and asked residents to remain indoors.

Authorities in Harbin, the provincial capital of Heilongjiang, announced Saturday that they were stepping up measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus…

On Sunday, the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region reported 34 newly confirmed cases from Russia…

On Sunday, the Shanghai Health Commission said there were 52 newly imported cases the previous day, with all but one coming from Chinese nationals arriving from Russia.

Mainland China reported 169 new COVID-19 cases today, April 12 — the highest daily total since March 6, NPR notes. For more details on measures to stem the flow of infection from Russia, see the SCMP, China tightens controls on Russia border as number of imported coronavirus cases continues to rise, or Reuters, China’s Harbin orders 28-day quarantine after rise in imported cases.

Schools are set to reopen on April 27 in Beijing and Shanghai, it was recently announced. However, large gatherings like sports events and student assemblies on college campuses will continue to be banned.

Other COVID-19 updates from China:

Research on the origins of COVID-19 is now politically sensitive in China, the Guardian reports. “Two websites for leading Chinese universities [Fudan University and the China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)] appear to have recently published and then removed pages that reference a new policy requiring academic papers dealing with COVID-19 to undergo extra vetting before they are submitted for publication. Research on the origins of the virus is particularly sensitive and subject to checks by government officials.”

“Expanding domestic demand is a must for protecting and improving livelihoods” reads a page-one headline (in Chinese) in the People’s Daily today. Simon Rabinovitch, a correspondent for The Economist, says it is a “clear suggestion” that an economic stimulus is in the works, but given the amount of debt in the economy and the ongoing work of making virus controls sustainable, the extent of the stimulus is hard to predict.

—Lucas Niewenhuis