Chinese town locked after NYU student sets off epidemic

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A city in northern China has locked itself in after local officials say a New York University student brought the coronavirus back from the United States, reports said.

Harbin, which has a population of 10 million, restricted travel on Wednesday after the 22-year-old graduate student was accused of triggering a local epidemic that ultimately infected at least 70 people, the Daily Mail reported.

The student, who was only identified by her last name, Han, returned from New York to her hometown on March 19, according to the Harbin Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

A staff member wearing a face mask is seen at the port of Suifenhe in Heilongjiang Province, on the border with Russia.
A staff member wearing a face mask is seen at the port of Suifenhe in Heilongjiang Province, on the border with Russia.Reuters

Han underwent a 14-day quarantine during which she showed no symptoms and tested negative for the virus, reported the Chinese daily Southern Urban Daily. She was also bleached by an antibody test, which allegedly showed a past infection.

But health officials believe she was a “silent carrier,” spreading the virus to her neighbor by contaminating the building, according to the Daily Mail. Later, she was found to have antibodies to the virus in two separate tests.

Meanwhile, his neighbor is said to have passed the virus on to an 87-year-old man, who organized a rally where others fell ill, the media reported.

The old man was hospitalized twice for the virus, possibly infecting others during those stays, the report said.

Health officials said the man had been linked to at least 78 cases, including relatives, patients and their families, and health care professionals, the report said.

Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, on Wednesday ordered inbound traffic to be restricted to contain the spread of the highly contagious disease, media reports said.

The city has banned foreigners and vehicles registered elsewhere from entering residential areas.

Harbin has already ordered 28 days of quarantine for anyone arriving from outside of China or other identified hot spots.

“All confirmed cases, suspected cases, close contacts of asymptomatic people and close contacts of close contacts should be quarantined and tested,” the city government said, according to official media.

With post wires

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