China Opens First Makeshift Hospital Outside Wuhan to Deal With Coronavirus on Russian Border

On the border between Russia and China, the town of Suifenhe is expected to open a field hospital Saturday in order to handle new coronavirus cases that have arisen in the area. Suifenhe's temporary medical facility, which used to be an office building, is the first coronavirus hospital facility to be opened in China since the 16 that were operated in the former epicenter of the global pandemic, Wuhan.

Capacity for the hospital will be 600 beds. It is expected to be staffed by 400 members of medical personnel.

"We will admit and treat every single person who requires admission and treatment," said medical team leader Yu Kaihong at a Thursday news conference. "We will use the whole strength of the province to prevent the import of the virus."

Newsweek reached out to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States of America for comment.

Suifenhe was locked down by Chinese officials Wednesday after health officials in the Heilongjiang province, where Suifenhe is located, reported 25 new cases of the virus on Tuesday.

Infected individuals may have entered the region from the Russian city of Vladivostok. Russia's health officials have reported over 10,000 cases positive of coronavirus throughout the country. Moscow, where most of Russia's positive coronavirus cases are centered, has been under stay-at-home orders since March.

It is believed that after Russia banned international flights in April, Chinese nationals flew from Moscow to Vladivostok and then re-entered their home country via automobile.

coronavirus, china
Officials in the Chinese city of Suifenhe are expected to open a field hospital Saturday to deal with a spate of new cases of coronavirus. iStock/Getty

As of Friday, Heilongjiang Province's health department had reported 155 confirmed imported cases of coronavirus in which the patients were symptomatic. The number of asymptomatic cases in the province, which China tracks separately from symptomatic cases, numbered 152, according to China Daily.

Entry into China from Russia has been limited since January, when Russia closed off sections of its border with China to help contain the virus. More entry points along the land border between Russia and China were closed by Chinese officials on Wednesday.

Under the lockdown regulations in Suifenhe, one member of each household can shop for essential items once every three days. Public transportation, such as buses and taxi cabs, are restricted to the city center.

After more than 70 days after officials moved to contain the virus, Wuhan was released from coronavirus lockdown protocols on Wednesday. More than 50,000 individuals were infected with the virus resulting in over 2,500 deaths in the area.

That doesn't mean everything is back to normal. On Sunday, Wuhan epidemic control officer Luo Ping told state-run China Central Television to "remain vigilant."

"For now, we still call on citizens to remain vigilant on the epidemic," Ping said, according to CNN. "Don't go out unless it's necessary and wear masks and properly protect yourself when you do."

"The reopening of Wuhan does not mean the all-clear," Ping continued, "neither does it mean a relaxing of epidemic prevention and control measures (within the city)."