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China Imposes Strict Measures In Northeast To Keep Out Coronavirus From Russia

China, in a further bid to keep a backwash of coronavirus infections from its borders, will ban all nonresidents and outside vehicles from residential areas of the city of Harbin, a major industrial entrepôt located near the country's northeast border with Russia.

Earlier this month, China — the original epicenter of the pandemic but which later saw its number of daily new domestic cases fall to zero — began seeing a wave of infections arriving from Russia, NPR's Emily Feng reported.

Russia, after initially reporting few cases even as much of Europe was dealing with the full force of the epidemic, has since experienced a surge of cases. Now there are nearly 53,000 confirmed cases and more than 450 COVID-19 deaths in Russia, according to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Most of the new cases reported recently in China have been concentrated in Heilongjiang province, of which Harbin is the capital, primarily because of the large number of mainly Chinese citizens flying in from Russia.

The land border between China and Russia has already been closed because of the pandemic. Earlier, the city had imposed a strict 28-day quarantine for anyone arriving from outside China.

"All confirmed cases, suspected cases, close contacts of asymptomatic people and close contacts of close contacts should be quarantined and tested," Harbin's municipal government announced Wednesday, as reported by local state media.

Harbin on Tuesday reported seven new local infections, bringing the total number of active cases there to 52.

The government also said Wednesday it would lock down for two weeks residential buildings where confirmed and asymptomatic cases had been found, according to Reuters.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.