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by Sharon Rondeau

Map of China, Wikimedia Commons, CC by SA 3.0

(May 20, 2020) — Multiple sources have recently reported that China’s northeast Jilin Province, where more than 100 million people reside, has been placed under “lockdown” conditions resulting from a new outbreak of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

On May 13, the South China Morning Post reported that the new outbreak began with six new instances of the disease on May 12 and prompted the halting of train and bus travel, public and private gatherings and “closing all residential compounds and rural villages in the area.”

As of Monday, Bloomberg reported the number of new cases in Jilin Province as 34.  However, as compared to a total of 68,000 cases in Wuhan in Hubei Province, where the epidemic began, Jilin Province has seen a total of 127 cases, Bloomberg wrote.

According to the Jilin City government website on May 18, 103 COVID-19 cases from the area are considered “cured,” 22 remain in the hospital, and there have been two fatalities.  “Two of the patients receiving treatment at hospital are in a severe condition and were all from the city of Jilin. Officials said a total of 1,117 close contacts of the confirmed locally transmitted cases in the province are now in quarantine and under medical observation,” the website reported.

On Monday, Jilin Province’s website additionally wrote that provincial “Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan called for more decisive, precise, flexible and effective measures in regular epidemic prevention and control to avoid further spread of the COVID-19 outbreak” while conducting an “inspection tour” of the province on May 13.  “The inspection team underlined the need to immediately improve the nucleic acid testing capabilities and expand the testing range of people to ensure early detection, reporting, quarantine and treatment,” the press release also stated.

As to the current status of the virus in China, on Wednesday Bloomberg reported:

Chinese doctors are seeing the coronavirus manifest differently among patients in its new cluster of cases in the northeast region compared to the original outbreak in Wuhan, suggesting that the pathogen may be changing in unknown ways and complicating efforts to stamp it out.

Patients found in the northern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang appear to carry the virus for a longer period of time and take longer to test negative, Qiu Haibo, one of China’s top critical care doctors, told state television on Tuesday.

Patients in the northeast also appear to be taking longer than the one to two weeks observed in Wuhan to develop symptoms after infection, and this delayed onset is making it harder for authorities to catch cases before they spread, said Qiu, who is now in the northern region treating patients.

On Saturday, the mayor of Shulan City, which is within Jilin City, attributed at the new cases to Shulan residents who had been “living abroad,” including in Russia, and had returned home.

China has faced increasing scrutiny and anger from the world community stemming from its reluctance to divulge how and where the disease originated,its easy transmission among humans, and China’s failure to shut down international travel, thereby sparking the pandemic.  Approximately 100 countries have called for an “independent inquiry” to find the answers to those questions.




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