A state of emergency has been declared and additional restrictions imposed in China's Heilongjiang Province due to ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Effective Jan. 13, provincial authorities have banned large gatherings and called on residents to defer nonessential travel, while long-distance transport services have been suspended in multiple locations. Authorities in numerous towns and cities, including Tieli, Qiqihar, Bei'an, Qing'an, and Daqing, have halted long-distance bus services. Officials in Tieli and Linkou have suspended passenger train services. All individuals traveling from Heihe are required to provide negative COVID-19 test results before leaving the city; tests must be taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure. Officials have also suspended all nonessential travel from Suihua. Similar measures severely restricting, or effectively suspending long-distance transport will likely be imposed in locations throughout Heilongjiang in the coming days.
As of Jan. 14, authorities have designated nine communities in the province, including parts of Heihe, Qiqihar, and Suihua, as being at medium risk. Huiqi Village in Suihua's Wangkui County has been declared a high-risk area. Residents of medium-risk areas must quarantine until they receive a negative result from a nucleic acid COVID-19 test; travel from high-risk areas is banned. Similar measures will be applied in any other parts of Heilongjiang Province that experience COVID-19 outbreaks in the coming days.
Additional security and emergency response personnel have deployed to conduct health screenings. Officials will conduct temperature scans and ensure people wear protective face coverings on public transport throughout the province. The government will likely continue to conduct mass testing as a precaution. Authorities have suspended nonessential businesses in multiple areas. Additional restrictions are possible throughout Heilongjiang, and possibly communities in adjacent provinces, if officials discover additional outbreaks.
Authorities in many provinces and cities require people traveling from affected areas of Heilongjiang to undergo increased health screenings. Provincial and municipal governments will likely continue to advise residents to avoid all nonessential travel to affected regions.
Qiqihar is about 270 km (168 miles) northwest of Harbin; Suihua is about 127 km (79 miles) north of Harbin, and Heihe is located on the Russian border, approximately 488 km (302) miles north of Harbin.
Follow all official instructions. Remain polite and nonconfrontational if questioned by security personnel. Confirm travel reservations throughout Heilongjiang. Consider deferring nonessential travel to Heilongjiang as a precaution until restrictions are lifted.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.