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School children in Changchun, the provincial capital, have been told to stay away from class if they visited Shulan in the last 14 days. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese city raises coronavirus threat level after recording new local case

  • Shulan in the northeastern province of Jilin says it is investigating source of infection after police employee comes down with Covid-19
  • Local authorities trying to trace source of infection, the first recorded in the province for 73 days

A city in China’s northeastern province of Jilin has upgraded its Covid-19 risk level from low to medium following a new case of the disease, the provincial authorities announced on Saturday morning.

It came just two days after China’s government declared the whole country was low-risk after the number of new cases dropped to almost zero and no deaths were recorded for more than three weeks.

On Friday the State Council issued a notice allowing shopping malls, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants to open fully.

Indoor public venues – including museums, libraries and cinemas – can open to a limited number of visitors, who must book in advance.

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On Saturday the country’s National Health Commission reported just one new coronavirus case, an imported case reported in Tianjin, while 384 people, some of whom had returned from overseas, remained in hospital with Covid-19.

But on Thursday Shulan city reported a fresh case – the first in Jilin province for 73 days.

It involved a 45-year-old woman who worked in the city police laundry.

Eighteen close contacts of the patient have been put in quarantine for medical observation and the authorities said they were investigating the source of the infection.

Contact tracing information released by the Jilin health authority said the patient had not left the province or been in contact with people returning from overseas or provinces where there have been recent cases of Covid-19.

It also said she had been driving to work in the family car and had recently visited her mother’s house.

Jilin city, which administers Shulan, had recorded six locally transmitted Covid-19 cases and 12 imported cases as of Friday.

Shulan received 308 permanent residents returning from Russia in April, 300 of whom were quarantined in the city.

The other eight were confirmed to have Covid-19 and were treated in Jilin city, according to a statement from the Shulan city government earlier this month.

The neighbouring province of Heilongjiang has recorded 386 imported cases of Covid-19 and last month shut its border with Russia after a recent spike in infections.

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“The [Shulan] case caused alarm bells to ring and exposed many shortcomings and loopholes in our outbreak control and prevention,” Bayonqolu, party secretary of Jilin province, told a meeting on Covid-19 control on Friday.

“This outbreak is hidden and might return, which makes the outbreak control severe and complicated. We must not be blindly optimistic.”

Changchun, the capital of Jilin province, had been gradually reopening its schools, but has now ordered pupils and school staff who have been to Shulan in the past 14 days to stay at home.

Shulan city has also suspended local bus services and banned buses and taxis from leaving or entering the city, according to a directive circulating on social media. Calls to the local transport management bureau went answered.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: JILIN raises RISK level from low to medium after new local infection