SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Health officials in southwest China’s Yunnan Province on Thursday reported six new cases of COVID-19 in Ruili as part of efforts to contain a new outbreak in the border town from Myanmar.
Home quarantine, out-of-town restrictions and mass testing began on Wednesday after authorities reported an outbreak of six cases of COVID and three asymptomatic patients – those infected but not showing symptoms.
Two of the last six COVID patients and 10 of the 23 new asymptomatic patients in Ruili are citizens of Myanmar, the Yunnan Province Health Commission said in a statement.
Yunnan health officials have yet to identify how the last cluster started.
Ruili is a key transit point for Yunnan Province, which has struggled to monitor its rugged 4,000 km (2,485 mile) border with Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam for illegal immigration amid a wave of unauthorized crossings last year by those seeking refuge from the COVID -19 pandemic.
Ruili deployed similar COVID-19 brakes last year after detection of infections imported from Myanmar.
For mainland China as a whole, a total of 16 COVID cases and 42 asymptomatic cases were reported on March 31, the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Thursday in a separate statement. Ruili’s cases represented all new locally transmitted infections reported by NHC.
COVID-19 first appeared in the city of Wuhan, central China, in late 2019 and virtually brought the country to a standstill in early 2020 before spreading globally. The country has since recovered and new infections are now a fraction of what it saw at the height of the outbreak in February 2020.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 90,217, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,636.