Authorities in the southwest province of Yunnan, which neighbours Myanmar, said genome sequencing of samples from seven patients showed the strain was closely related to the highly transmissible Delta variant and the strain circulating in Myanmar.
Ruili party chief Zhai Yulong said authorities would trace the source of the latest outbreak and strengthen border control measures.
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“[We will] strictly crack down on illegal entry and severely punish illegal entrants and those who organise, assist and offer accommodation,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Mass testing of more than 265,000 people in Ruili has found 23 cases since Monday. Of those patients, 17 were Myanmese. A community in the city’s Jiegao township, near Muse in Myanmar, has been listed as high risk for Covid-19.
Ruili city proper has been closed off, while residents are required to quarantine at home and report symptoms such as fever, cough and loss of taste or smell.
Schools and businesses – except markets, hospitals and pharmacies – have been ordered to close. A new round of mass testing started on Wednesday morning.
An earlier resurgence in cases prompted a mass vaccination roll-out in April, targeting all eligible residents in four border counties and cities under Dehong Dai and Jingpo autonomous prefecture. State-owned vaccine developer Sinopharm delivered 600,000 doses to Yunnan in April.
Jin Dong-yan, a molecular virologist at the University of Hong Kong, said the outbreak was not surprising because of the porous nature of the border. He said vaccination remained the best way to fight the virus.
“Due to the low efficacy of the vaccine, even if a 95 per cent [coverage] is achieved, there might still be a risk of transmission,” he said. “They should substantially increase the efficacy of the vaccines, either by adding a third injection or by increasing dosage so that at least the high-risk groups can have better protection.”
Meanwhile, 52 Covid-19 patients – including 30 asymptomatic patients – were found on a flight from Afghanistan to Wuhan in the central province of Hubei on Friday.
“The Chinese government has reminded citizens in Afghanistan to leave the country as soon as possible due to the complex security situation and provided necessary assistance to ensure their safety,” the centre for consular assistance and protection of the Chinese foreign ministry said on Weibo on Wednesday.
It added that Covid-19 patients returning from Afghanistan were receiving medical treatment while the embassy had helped those staying in the South Asian country get vaccinated.
Afghan authorities vowed to retake all the districts lost to the Taliban as the withdrawal of US forces neared completion, Agence France-Presse reported on Wednesday.
This article Coronavirus: Chinese border city in lockdown after 15 new cases, link to Delta variant uncovered first appeared on South China Morning Post