BEIJING, Nov 30 (Reuters) - A few Chinese border cities are
halting some non-container commodity imports by rail to reduce
the risk of COVID-19 clusters caused by the virus brought in
from other countries amid a resurgence of infections in northern
areas of China.
China's efforts to keep the virus out face increasing
pressure as infections grow globally with the new threat of the
Omicron variant, Mi Feng, a spokesperson for the National Health
Commission, said on Tuesday.
The city of Manzhouli in the northern Chinese region of
Inner Mongolia, a small border town near Russia, said from
Wednesday it would suspend taking some non-containerised rail
cargo arriving from abroad that requires manual loading and
unloading, including coal and fertiliser.
The measure comes as Inner Mongolia reported a total of 41
domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms on Sunday
and Monday. More than half of the cases were found in Manzhouli.
The outbreak is much smaller than many outside China, but
Beijing has taken a zero-tolerance approach to clusters, with
cities quickly imposing travel restrictions and closing public
Gene sequencing results on samples from a few Manzhouli
infections indicated that the latest flare-up was caused by a
virus source from overseas unrelated to previous outbreaks
elsewhere in China, an official said on Tuesday.
Erenhot, a key transit hub in Inner Mongolia next to
Mongolia itself, halted some non-containerised imports by rail
that need to be handled by hand, according to a local government
These included certain cargos for coal, oil, copper ore,
zinc and iron ore. Erenhot did not report any new local
infections over the weekend.
Suifenhe, in northeastern Heilongjiang province on the
border with Russia, on Tuesday halted some non-containerised
imports, such as coal and fertiliser.
Heilongjiang detected one domestically transmitted
asymptomatic carrier on Sunday in a different city.
The three cities did not say when the restrictions might be
Authorities in China, where the virus was first identified
in late 2019, vowed this month to step up virus control in
border areas, demanding strict implementation of prevention
measures on imported cargo.
The northeastern cities of Huichun and Dongning, both along
the border with Russia, in mid-November suspended some
non-essential imports by highway, such as wine, milk and
(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Gabriel Crossley; Additional
reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Christopher Cushing,
Edwina Gibbs and Nick Macfie)