The governor of the far-eastern Russian region near the city in China which has just been placed in lockdown due to a surge of imported coronavirus cases, fears that the disease has already been spread throughout his region by Chinese citizens who were returning home.
With some parts of China tentatively opening up on Wednesday, Suifenhe in the Heilongjiang province was placed in lockdown. China has also closed its vast border with Russia.
The state-run newspaper China Daily reported that the move came after 25 imported cases of COVID-19 entered the country via the passenger crossing between Suifenhe and Pogranichny in Russia. The patients had flown from Moscow to Vladivostok, which is around 100 miles away and is the administrative center of the Primorsky region.
There were also 85 cases of infected people without symptoms who had travelled from Russia via the same route, the publication reported.
However the Primosrky governor, Oleg Kozhemyako, said on Thursday that Chinese citizens who were in transit may have already spread the virus.
“On April 8, China closed the Suifenhe-Pogranichny border crossing. This was the last checkpoint through which we sent transit passengers to China. So, between March 29 and April 6, 1,947 citizens from China passed in transit, 85 of whom were identified as having coronavirus.
“They all arrived from Moscow, flew eight hours with our compatriots. Now they must observe a two-week quarantine at home,” said Oleg Kozhemyako.
He said that as a result of the contact with the disease, “people are simply afraid,” adding that “we now expect an increase in the number of patients with coronavirus in the region,” Konkurent.ru reported.
During a video conference on Wednesday before the border closure, he had urged Russian president Vladimir Putin to impose a ban on Chinese citizens traveling from Moscow, or from other cities in transit through Vladivostok, suggesting that charter flights be organized directly from Moscow to Beijing.
He also expressed concerns about the risk posed to Vladivostok due to its regional borders and the lack of any hospitals that can deal with infectious diseases.
“Our region is Russia’s gateway to the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. There are active migration flows from China, from Korea, from Japan, from other countries and outbreaks of infectious diseases are always possible.”
Putin has announced that he would delegate anti-coronavirus measures to Russia’s regional authorities and also extend stay at home orders until April 30, The Moscow Times reported.
Thursday saw the number of coronavirus cases surge past 10,000 in Russia, with the death toll now 76 with nearly 700 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of COVID-19 globally.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19
- CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
- Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
- Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
- Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.
World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
- Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.
- Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
- Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
- If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
- Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
- Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.
Mask and glove usage
- Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
- Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
- Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
- Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
- Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
- Do not reuse single-use masks.
- Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
- The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.