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Global Times

Manzhouli rushes to curb COVID-19 outbreak after virus strain found similar to that of Russia

Global Times

By GT staff reporters Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/26 17:19:33

China's largest land port - Manzhouli in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region - vowed to curb the latest COVID-19 outbreak, as the city announced the virus strain of the initial infections was highly similar to that of Russia. A total of 11 cases have been confirmed so far.

The city reported nine more locally transmitted cases on Thursday, including two previous asymptomatic individuals who later became confirmed patients, the local health authorities said.

All have been put under quarantine and are being treated in designated hospitals. A total of 443 close contacts have been tracked down, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

After analyzing the genetic sequence of the two COVID-19 patients first reported in Manzhouli, it was found that the virus strain belongs to the L genotype of the European branch, and shares a high similarity with the strain found in Russia, local health authorities announced on Thursday.

The results suggest that the two cases were related to imported virus.

The regional disease control and prevention department will continue to trace the virus source of the latest outbreak and carry out genetic sequencing of all other confirmed cases.

The latest outbreak also shows the characteristics of a cluster infection, as the virus is believed to have spread among local families, communities, and a local high school, officials said.

Six of the cases were found to have been families. And five cases are students and teacher at the same local middle school. Meanwhile, the outbreak was also detected in two communities, where eight cases were confirmed.

All gatherings have been suspended, and the six communities where infection cases were found have been put under 24-hour closed-loop management.

Rail, air and road services from Manzhouli have been suspended, and medium-risk areas in the city have been put under strict traffic control.

Bus services are halted, but taxis remain in operation, the Global Times learned from some local residents on Thursday.

Vehicles carrying medical supplies and daily necessities are fully running to ensure the city's normal operations. Relevant personnel will receive COVID-19 screening tests upon arrival in the city.

"There is no shortage of daily supplies in the city, and people are coping rather calmly," a local resident told the Global Times.

He added that some companies have told their employees to work from home, but no official announcements have been released so far.

Two major local hospitals, the Manzhouli People's Hospital and Manzhouli South District Hospital, said they were suspending non-emergency services in an effort to curb potential cross-infections.

Patients with acute and critical illnesses should go to emergency clinics for treatment, while non-urgent treatment has been postponed, hospitals said.

Respiratory tract examinations, which expose doctors to a high risk of contracting COVID-19, were also canceled.

Hospitalized patients were ordered not to leave their wards, and they have been limited to only one fixed caregiver for each patient.

Bu Xiaolin, head of the Inner Mongolia regional government, arrived in Manzhouli on Tuesday for a two-day inspection of the local epidemic control and prevention.

She ordered all relevant departments to stay on high alert for the health monitoring of densely populated areas, supervision of imported cold-chain food, and closed-loop management of inbound travelers.

Medical staff from other cities in the Inner Mongolia have arrived in Manzhouli to prepare for a second round of citywide nucleic acid testing, media reported on Thursday.

As of Tuesday, the city had completed the first round of testing on more than 200,000 residents within only two and a half days, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Manzhouli entered quasi-lockdown mode after two local COVID-19 infections were reported on Saturday, a 55-year-old sanitation worker and his wife. Places that they visited in the past 14 days have been sealed off and undergone thorough disinfection.

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