Chinese officials have imposed quarantine restrictions on two cities in the province of Jilin located in northeast China. Jilin is part of a wider province located in the Dongbei region – which is home to more than 100 million residents. The threat level in the area has been raised to “high-risk” by health authorities.
Around 40,000 residents in the cities of Jilin and Shulan have been tested for coronavirus after officials were alerted to a possible new outbreak.
In Jilin, authorities stopped all major transport links to and from neighbouring cities until further notice.
Fresh COVID-19 cases in the provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang in the north-east of the country are displaying different symptoms, suggesting the disease is changing as it moves across the country once more. Dr Qiu Haibo, who is an expert in critical care medicine at the National Health Commission, said the cluster of cases in the cities – which have a combined population of five million – were proving a cause for concern.
People in the two cities were carrying the virus for longer before becoming symptomatic than cases among the population of Wuhan, to the south, where the disease was first identified towards the end of last year.
Dr Qiu told state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV): “This causes a problem, as they don’t have any symptoms.
“So when they gather with their families they don’t care about this issue and we see family cluster infections.”
In addition, he warned infected patients were taking considerably longer to recover.
In contrast to previous cases, new patients rarely displayed high temperature, and suffered lung damage rather than across, Dr Qiu said.
Intriguingly, he suggested the mutated strain seemed to have been imported from overseas.
He did not specify which country he was referring to – but both cities are close to China’s border with Russia, which now has the second-highest number of cases in the world, 317,554, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
They are also close to China’s border with North Korea – although, officially at least, the Hermit State has no cases of COVID-19.
Both Jilin and Shulan, located in the province Jilin, are subject to fresh lockdown restrictions.