China's border city Suifenhe on high alert as coronavirus cases in Russia surpass 10,000
Updated 21:29, 09-Apr-2020

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Thursday that the decision to close the China-Russia border is made by governments from both sides, as coronavirus infections in Russia have surpassed 10,000. 

Suifenhe in Heilongjiang and Manzhouli in Inner Mongolia "temporarily" closed borders with Russia starting from April 7 as part of efforts to stop infected travelers crossing the border from Russia, according to local governments' statements.

On Thursday, Russia reported a record one-day rise of 1,459 new cases of coronavirus, pushing its national case total to 10,131. The number of coronavirus-related deaths rose by 13 to 76, the national coronavirus crisis response center said.

Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province has reported a surge of imported coronavirus cases, mostly from Russia. By the end of April 8, the province reported a total of 127 confirmed imported cases, and two third of them are in severe condition, according to official data. 

Suifenhe, with the population of only 70,000 people, is building a temporary hospital with over 600 hospital beds. It is expected to open on April 11.

An aerial view of an temporary hospital in Suifenhe, Heilongjiang Province, April 8, 2020. /CCTV

An aerial view of an temporary hospital in Suifenhe, Heilongjiang Province, April 8, 2020. /CCTV

Meanwhile, the Heilongjiang provincial government has sent a working team as well as a 141-member medical expert team to the small city to help contain a possible outbreak.

The city government also announced restrictions on the movement of citizens starting from 6 a.m. on April 8. 

People must stay in their residential compounds and only one person per family can leave once every three days to buy necessities, and must return on the same day, according to a government statement.

When was asked whether the decision to close the border are made by the Chinese side, Zhao said both Chinese and Russian authorities agreed to the suspension of people's flow.

Asked about whether China is considering sending charter flights to take its nationals back home, Zhao said the governments from both sides are still discussing the issue, without more information.

China sent 25.2 tonnes of medical supplies including face masks and protective suits to Moscow on April 2 to help fight the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the nation and likened the fight against the coronavirus to its battles against medieval invaders.

Putin said the next few weeks would be decisive and he demanded the absolute concentration of resources and the strictest observance of doctors' recommendations and preventative measures to control the outbreak.

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China closes land border with Russia to prevent imported COVID-19 cases