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China reports record number of imported coronavirus cases

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SHANGHAI: China is stepping up scrutiny of inbound travellers and tightening border control after the number of single-day imported coronavirus cases set a record, doubling the daily number of newly detected infections.

New confirmed cases in mainland China reached 99 on April 11 from 46 the previous day, with all but two involving travellers from abroad.

In the commercial hub Shanghai, 51 Chinese nationals arriving on the same flight from Russia tested positive.

Guangzhou, an economic hub in Southern China, is enforcing anti-virus measures on anyone who enters the city from across the national border, regardless of nationality, race or gender, foreign affairs official Liu Baochun said at the same event.

"We hope foreigners can strictly abide by anti-virus rules as Chinese do," he said.

Even Wuhan, the first virus epicentre which this month emerged from lockdown after containing the virus, is vulnerable to imported infection, China's senior medical advisor Zhong Nanshan said.

"At the moment, the epidemic is still spreading rapidly overseas, so China's coastal, major cities with close international contact are highly vulnerable, and could see the epidemic come back again," Dr Zhong told the official People's Daily newspaper in an interview published yesterday.

Dr Zhong cautioned that with the world's virus epicentre shifting from Europe to the US, it is too early to judge whether the pandemic's peak is imminent. "It's not yet time to take off masks," he said.

Several African countries have demanded that China tackle concerns that Africans in Guangzhou are being mistreated and harassed amid fear the virus could spread from imported cases.

"The anti-virus curbs apply to all Chinese citizens and foreigners, with no discrimination in enforcement" said a city official.

He said foreigners and nationals alike must abide by rules or else face punishment.

Last week, Guangzhou's US consulate said local government officials had ordered bars and restaurants not to serve clients who appeared to be of African origin.

Those in contact with anyone from Africa faced mandatory virus tests followed by quarantine, regardless of recent travel history or previous isolation, the US consulate said in a statement. - REUTERS