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People queue at a Covid-19 vaccination site in Ruili, a city in China’s Yunnan Province, on April 1. Chen Xinbo/Xinhua/Getty Images

The Chinese city of Ruili, which borders Myanmar, started a citywide mass vaccination campaign for its roughly 300,000 residents after dozens of Covid-19 cases were discovered this week.

Speaking at a press conference Friday, an official said the city had started a mass vaccination and planned to inoculate all its residents in town before April 6.

As of now, Ruili has identified a total of 16 symptomatic cases and 30 asymptomatic cases since March 29, according to government statements. The government notes that many patients are Myanmar nationals.

The government did not indicate if they were refugees from Myanmar.

Ruili officials launched citywide Covid-19 tests since Wednesday morning and stopped all inbound and outbound travel Tuesday evening, according to a statement released by the information department of Yunnan province.

This is the second mass testing that the city has conducted since the coronavirus; the previous one was held in September 2020.

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Those needing to leave the city need to show negative Covid-19 test results within three days of departure. 

The Yunnan province statement added that local authorities will crack down on illegal border crossings from Myanmar, as four Covid-19 patients had been identified as Myanmar nationals.

Last September, Chinese officials blamed smugglers from Myanmar for a surge of Covid-19 cases in Ruili.

“There are Burmese asymptomatic cases illegally crossing into the Chinese border,” Yang Bianqiang, deputy director of the local police department, told the media at a press conference held by the Ruili government on September 14.

“It shows that there are shortfalls in our work of guarding the 169.8 km borderline, and we must fix the loopholes,” he said.

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