China closes border town as Myanmar fights outbreak

Authorities have sealed off a Chinese city bordering Myanmar, shutting down most businesses and requiring residents to stay at home as a new outbreak of COVID-19 expands

According to a notice posted online, the lockdown closed all businesses and public institutions except essential shops such as hospitals, pharmacies and grocery stores. It affects the urban part of Ruili, which, like most Chinese cities, includes the surrounding rural areas under its jurisdiction.

Myanmar is battling a major outbreak with limited resources to control it. The Southeast Asian nation reported 3,602 new cases in the past 24 hours, state media said on Wednesday, its highest daily total since the pandemic began.

Ruili is located across a river from the museum town of Shan State, Myanmar. China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper reported earlier this week that Chinese anti-virus measures had dealt a blow to active cross-border trade between the two countries.

After the first cases were reported, authorities on Monday banned unnecessary travel in and out of Ruili.

All cases have been reported in the Ruili community on the border called Jiao, which has been designated a high-risk area. These include both Chinese and Myanmar citizens. The latest cases were discovered during mass testing, and officials said they would increase border controls.

Elsewhere in China, 52 people who flew in from Afghanistan five days ago tested positive for the virus, the Hubei Provincial Health Commission said. Thirty are classified as confirmed cases, while another 22 did not show any COVID-19 symptoms. China does not include asymptomatic cases in its official tally.

China has regularly imported cases from travelers, but usually in small numbers. July 2 A Xiamen Air flight took off from Kabul to Wuhan, after the virus was first detected in the city in late 2019. Almost everyone arriving in China will have to quarantine for two weeks in a designated hotel.

Ruili launched a citywide vaccination campaign in April after the outbreak in March.

China has relied on a strict lockdown strategy and mass testing to contain the outbreak, even as it has ramped up the pace of vaccination. Central health officials have said that they want to vaccinate 80% of the population.


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