City in Jilin declares wartime control mode over COVID-19

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/10 10:42:42

Laundrywoman infected from unknown source spreads virus to 11 others

A woman wearing a face mask rides a bicycle in the snow in Jilin, Northeast China's Jilin Province. The spring snow surprised local residents while the larger areas of Northeast and North China are experiencing a cold wave. Photo: IC

A city in Northeast China's Jilin Province has declared wartime control mode in its fight against COVID-19 after an infected laundrywoman spread the virus to 11 others, unsettling locals as it was just recovering from the epidemic. 

Shulan should declare wartime control mode in line with the requirements of highest-risk level prevention and control, Bayin Chaolu, the secretary of the Jilin Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, said as he presided over an anti-epidemic meeting on Sunday.

Bayin Chaolu said the clustered infections in Shulan pose great danger to the lives of the public and the situation is heart-breaking, exposing the shortfalls and loopholes in anti-epidemic work. Those who failed to take action over the epidemic will be held responsible. 

Shulan raised its epidemic-response on Sunday to the highest level, making it the only city in China to do so currently, after it reported 11 domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases. 

In the wake of the infections, Shulan imposed lockdown in local communities and villages from Saturday. Exits and entrances are being guarded by designated people, leaving only one door for local residents to enter. Only one family member is allowed to purchase daily necessities each day.

The local railway company halted nearly a dozen train services from Sunday to May 31 in and out of Shulan.

All public transportation, including buses, suspended services from Sunday, and no taxi is allowed to leave the city, which has a population of 630,000. 

A local resident who runs a lobster restaurant in Shulan told the Global Times he was about to open his business as the city recovered from the epidemic, but the recent infections prompted him to shut his doors once again. 

"All restaurants have closed for business due to the infections. The flow of people on streets has been less in recent days," he said. 

The city required all public and entertainment venues such as gyms, cinemas, KTVs and swimming pools to halt business.

The infection chain in Shulan led a nearby county to raise its guard as well. Dongfeng county will inspect all personnel coming back from Shulan within 14 days and those who plan to return to Dongfeng need to report to the local community three days in advance and face 14 days of centralized quarantine and seven days of home quarantine.

Party officials, deputies to the local people's congresses and members of the people's political consultative conferences should take the lead and encourage their friends, family members and neighbors to abide by the anti-epidemic regulations. 

Classes for students in the final year of middle schools were suspended on Sunday after the 11 patients were reported. 

 "The infection chain makes senior students very jittery, as we are going to sit college entrance exams in less than two months. There are students living in communities where infected patients have been reported," a senior student in Shulan surnamed Wang told the Global Times. She said schools are considering opening online classes. 

The infection chain originated from a 45-year-old female who worked as a laundry worker at a local public security bureau. The virus has now spread to her husband, her three sisters and some other family members, according to the local health authority on Sunday. 

However, the source of infection of the laundrywoman remains a mystery, as she had no recent travel or exposure history, alarming locals and netizens over whether the virus has found a new way of spreading. An epidemiological investigation is ongoing. 

Bayin Chaolu said that the city will trace every close contact, every suspicious person and every clue, he said, ordering local departments to re-inspect and trace every activity route on the infection chain.

Jilin should mobilize the strength of the whole province and concentrate its resources to continue the fight against the epidemic, Bayin Chaolu said.

Epidemic control and prevention is a serious and complicated matter, and local authorities should never be overly optimistic, war-weary, or off-guard, he said. 


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