China-Mongolia border port in lockdown as Shanghai tour group transmission expands
Published: Oct 19, 2021 04:05 PM


A region in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region bordering Mongolia closed port, rolled out mass nucleic acid tests for all residents on Tuesday morning as the region detected five confirmed COVID-19 infections that are linked to a cross-provincial tour group. 

Five confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ejina Banner and another two in the border port of Erenhot were reported, the health commission of Inner Mongolia said on Tuesday.

In the wake of the five confirmed in Ejina Banner, the local authorities decided to give nucleic acid tests at 12 testing venues to all residents and visitors, starting from Tuesday morning. 

All scenic spots, public venues and transportation were temporarily closed. Schools were also closed. 

From Monday 7am, the Ejina Banner had restricted movement both into and out of the region, and shut down the Ceke Port, the third largest land port in Inner Mongolia. It will be a 48 hour temporary restriction, local officials said at the press conference on Tuesday.

An employee from the epidemic leading group of Alaxan region said since the Ceke Port has been closed, freight drivers from Mongolia are not allowed to pass through. He said prior to the outbreak, drivers from Mongolia had to return on the same day when they finished loading goods. 

The newest information released by local authorities at the press conference on Tuesday said as the five employees from the restaurant tested positive, another two who initially tested positive were waiting to be rechecked. All the five confirmed cases and two positive cases are being quarantined for medical treatment. 197 close contacts and 85 secondary close contacts have been screened out. 

Among close contacts who had the same travel history with the confirmed cases, two were individual vendors working in the commercial market of the Ceke Port, a 23-year-old man surnamed Wang and another 41-year-old man surnamed Zhang, official report showed. The two were quarantined. 

Prior to the outbreak, street market close to the port were open for tourists who had green health QR codes, the employee from the local epidemic leading group told the Global Times. 
Health experts reached by the Global Times said possibilities of confirmed cases got infected in the port cannot be ruled out. 

Ejina Banner borders Mongolia’s Omnogovi Province. On October 11 alone, the province reported 262 new confirmed cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 7,874, reports said.

An IV emergency responding mechanism was activated in Ejina Banner, requiring an implementation of a slew of anti-epidemic measures to tackle epidemic resurgence, including screening out close tests, travel control, testing and disinfections.

The five confirmed cases in Ejina Banner were close contacts of two confirmed cases who were a couple. The couple had travelled from Shanghai to Northwest China’s Gansu, Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi. Five others who were in the same tour group as the couple also tested positive for COVID-19.

All the confirmed five in Ejina Banner were working at a restaurant called Tongnange. Previously, the couple had been to the restaurant from October 12-14 multiple times. 

Their confirmation made the total confirmed infections relating to the restaurant to at least 12. Another five who departed from Lanzhou, Gansu Province, had also been to the restaurant from October 12-14.

The epidemic flare-up in Inner Mongolia was firstly reported in the border port of Erenhot. As of press time, the mainland has four COVID-19 medium-risk communities, two of which are in Erenhot.