Chinese Border Town Locked Down After 21 COVID Cases Reported in 3 Days

The Chinese border town of Ruili has been put on lockdown after 21 cases of COVID-19 were reported in the last three days.

Chinese authorities shut down businesses and nonessential public institutions and required residents to stay at home, according to a notice posted online, the Associated Press reported.

Travel in and out of Ruili was banned Monday after the first cases were reported.

Ruili is a city in the southwestern province of Yunnan that borders Myanmar, a country struggling to contain the virus.

Myanmar reported 3,602 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, state media said Wednesday. This is the highest daily total since the pandemic began.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Ruili China
A man walks past the China-Myanmar border gate in Muse in Shan state on July 5, 2021, as the Chinese city of Ruili near the border with Myanmar imposed a lockdown and started mass testing after three Covid-19 coronavirus cases were reported on Monday. STR/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese anti-virus measures have dealt a blow to the active cross-border trade between the two countries, China's state-owned Global Times newspaper reported earlier this week.

All the cases have been reported in a Ruili community on the border called Jiegao, which has been designated a high-risk area. They include both Chinese and Myanmar nationals. The latest cases were discovered during mass testing, and authorities said they would step up border controls.

Elsewhere in China, 52 people who had arrived on a flight from Afghanistan five days ago tested positive for the virus, the Hubei provincial health commission said. Thirty have been classified as confirmed cases, while the other 22 did not show any COVID-19 symptoms. China does not include asymptomatic cases in its official tally.

China has regularly imported cases from travelers, but usually in smaller numbers. The July 2 Xiamen Air flight flew from Kabul to Wuhan, the city hit hard by the virus after it was first detected there in late 2019. Virtually all people arriving in China must quarantine for two weeks in a designated hotel.

Ruili launched a campaign to vaccinate the entire city in April following an outbreak in March.

China has relied on a tough lockdown strategy and mass testing to tamp down outbreaks, even as it has stepped up the pace of vaccinations. Central health officials have said they want to vaccinate 80 percent of the population.

Chinese City Lockdown
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a medical worker collects a swab sample for nucleic acid test in Ruili City of southwest China's Yunnan Province, on July 5, 2021. Authorities in the Chinese city bordering Myanmar locked down the city Wednesday, July 7, shutting most businesses and requiring residents to stay at home, as a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 expanded. Wang Guansen/Xinhua via AP