An untraced coronavirus outbreak in a Chinese city near the Russian border and a spate of new cases in Wuhan has prompted fears of a fresh wave of infections in China.
On Sunday, Chinese authorities reclassified Shulan, a city near the Russian and North Korean borders, as high risk, after a cluster of cases connected to a woman with no known history of travel or exposure to the virus.
It came just a week after China designated all regions in the country as low or medium risk.
Chinese authorities have sealed off the north-eastern city of Shulan, home to about 700,000 people, after an outbreak of coronavirus, imposing measures similar to those used in Wuhan.
All villages and residential compounds in the city were closed off, and only one person from each household allowed out for two hours every second day for essentials.
The development came as Beijing signalled it could ease some border restrictions as it prepares for the start on Thursday of its signature political event, the Communist party’s delayed annual congress, also known as the “two sessions”.
Last week, the city was reclassified as high risk after a cluster of cases emerged connected to a woman with no known history of travel or exposure to the virus. In response, authorities ordered the temporary closure of public places, schools and public transport.
On Monday however these restrictions were increased further, with China Daily referring to the city as “the latest pandemic hotspot in the country”. It said hundreds of people were under medical quarantine, and that life might not go back to normal for weeks.
On Tuesday, another nearby city introduced protective measures.
Jilin province authorities said that due to the “severe circumstances” of the epidemic in the areas surrounding the city of Jiaohe, public transport inside the city and between the city and neighbouring counties would be stopped until further notice.
The north-east of the country, which borders Russia and North Korea, has emerged as an area of serious concern, as cases appear to have been brought in from across the border, and then begun to spread locally.