China on Friday reported a record rise in imported COVID-19 cases as expatriates returned home from the US and Europe, sparking fears of a second wave of infections just as the country recovers from the initial outbreak.
All 41 of the new confirmed cases in China were imported from abroad, the Chinese National Health Commission said yesterday, bringing the total number of such cases to 269.
Beijing and Shanghai were the main entry points for the returnees, many of whom are students who were studying abroad, official reports said.
They have come back after many campuses in the US and Europe shut down to stem rapidly rising infection rates there.
Also returning in a flight to safety were China-based expatriates, as businesses begin to reopen.
The pivot to stemming imported cases has led to a tightening of quarantine restrictions in the country.
Guangdong Province’s health commission said that travelers who enter the province from abroad would be subject to a 14-day quarantine on arrival either in personal residences or at a centralized quarantine center at the expense of the traveler.
The number of confirmed cases in China totaled 81,008 as of Friday, the National Health Commission said, adding that the death toll was 3,255, up by seven, a much slower rate than at the height of the crisis.
The lack of locally transmitted cases for the third consecutive day underscored a recovery that has prompted officials to relax restrictions, even in the virus epicenter of Wuhan, which was responsible for all seven new deaths.
City officials last week said that residents could walk around their compounds, loosening restrictions that had kept them in their personal living areas.
The official Xinhua news agency yesterday said that commercial outlets in residential communities and villages without existing cases of the coronavirus can resume business, citing the municipal bureau of commerce.
In addition to Beijing and Shanghai, the major transport hub of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, has facilitated infected returnees.
The southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, and the eastern provinces of Shandong and Zhejiang, as well as Shaanxi and Sichuan, have also all reported cases.
In Hong Kong, many overseas arrivals are going unmonitored as they begin two weeks of mandatory self-quarantine, with only one-third of the 6,000 electronic wristbands issued to them being activated, authorities said on Friday.
Hong Kong has witnessed a surge in people returning home this week, as they flee an explosion of disease caused by the coronavirus in Europe, North America and the Middle East, but delays in verifying their accounts have held up the activations.
With 256 infections and four deaths, the Chinese-ruled territory has toughened curbs on travelers, ordering 14 days of quarantine for arrivals from midnight on Thursday and advising against all nonessential travel.
It has seen some success in reining the spread of the virus, but more than 90 percent of infections in a recent spike in cases caught the virus overseas or had close contacts with travelers.
Hong Kong has said that it has more than 20,000 bracelets ready for arrivals and would send anyone with upper respiratory symptoms directly to test centers near the airport.
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures