China shuts gyms and swimming pools while country battles second wave of coronavirus 


New coronavirus cases have forced Chinese gyms to close – just weeks after reopening.

The country appeared to be getting a stranglehold on the killer bug, which first emerged in the city of Wuhan, but is now facing up to a second wave of infection.

People returning to China from overseas are once again being ordered to quarantine, while health clubs and swimming pools are shutting amid fears of a new spike in the disease.   

New coronavirus cases have forced Chinese gyms, pictured, to close – just weeks after reopening

Furthermore, there is no sign yet of when gyms may be able to welcome customers back once more, which many fear will have a devastating impact on the industry. 

Zhao Hui, 30, the owner of Upower Fitness in Beijing, told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘On April 16, after we passed the inspection, we were able to start a trial operation. Then on April 18, they suddenly asked us to close again.

‘I felt very frustrated. We just saw hope, but then it was gone, and we could not operate again.’

It comes as more than 70 people have been infected and over 4,000 are being tested in the city of Harbin after the virus was believed to be ‘imported’ by a student who had returned from New York, according to media reports. 

Officials have banned gatherings and ordered communities to closely monitor non-local visitors and vehicles in the city of around 10 million. 

Checkpoints have been installed at the airport and train stations, to screen those coming from elsewhere. 

Earlier this week, China announced that there were only two critically ill patients left in Wuhan, the former centre of the pandemic. 

Harbin, a city of around 10 million people in north-eastern China's Heilongjiang province, has adopted draconian quarantine measures against the coronavirus. The picture shows a man keeping watch at a checkpoint in the border city of Suifenhe, in Heilongjiang, on April 21

Harbin, a city of around 10 million people in north-eastern China’s Heilongjiang province, has adopted draconian quarantine measures against the coronavirus. The picture shows a man keeping watch at a checkpoint in the border city of Suifenhe, in Heilongjiang, on April 21

Harbin, the provincial capital and the biggest city of Heilongjiang, which borders Russia

Harbin, the provincial capital and the biggest city of Heilongjiang, which borders Russia

Harbin, the provincial capital of Heilongjiang in north-eastern China, has been grappling with what is now the country’s biggest coronavirus outbreak.

The government yesterday released a directive to instruct further restrictions on its residents, visitors and inbound traffic. 

Before entering any public facilities and residential complexes, people must use a government-approved health app to prove they don’t have the virus, have their temperature taken and wear a face mask, the notice says. 

Residents must follow social-distancing measures. Weddings, funerals, public performances and conferences are banned. 

All confirmed, suspected, asymptomatic cases and their close contacts will be put into strict quarantine. All their neighbours in the same building must be isolated at home for two weeks with around-the-clock surveillance.

Asymptomatic cases are those who carry the virus but show no symptoms. They can still spread the virus to others.

Anyone in home-quarantine must pass two nucleic acid tests, which detect the coronavirus, and one anti-body test, which shows if the person has had the virus in the past.

Officials say the virus was likely 'imported' into the city by a student who returning from the US. Pictured, passengers wearing face masks push luggage carts at an airport in Harbin on April 11

Officials say the virus was likely ‘imported’ into the city by a student who had returned from New York. Pictured, passengers wearing masks push luggage carts at Harbin airport on April 11

The city's government said this month it was ordering 28 days of quarantine for all arrivals from abroad, with two nucleic acid tests and an antibody test for each. Pictured, workers in protective suits are seen at a registration point for passengers at an airport in Harbin on April 11

The city’s government said this month it was ordering 28 days of quarantine for all arrivals from abroad, with two nucleic acid tests and an antibody test for each. Pictured, workers in protective suits are seen at a registration point for passengers at an airport in Harbin on April 11

Harbin, Heilongjiang’s biggest city, had already ordered isolation for those arriving from outside China or key epidemic areas.

The city’s government said this month it was ordering 28 days of quarantine for all arrivals from abroad, with two nucleic acid tests and an antibody test for each.

Heilongjiang has been at the forefront of China’s latest efforts to identify infected citizens arriving from Russia, with which it shares a border, to curb the spread of the virus.

‘I’m not taking my daughter or parents outside anymore. If we need any food or vegetables, we just let my husband buy it on his way back,’ said a 34-year-old Harbin resident surnamed Sun.

‘And whenever anyone has to go outside, he or she will leave their shoes outside the door to avoid bringing back any virus.’

Wuhan has only TWO critically ill coronavirus patients, China says

China has announced today that there are only two critically ill coronavirus patients left in Wuhan, the former epicentre of the pandemic.

A health official said that the number of active confirmed patients in China has dropped below 1,000 for the first time and the total of critically ill cases in Wuhan has fallen to two.

More than half of the patients who contracted the bug from abroad have recovered, the authorities stated in a press conference on Thursday.

China has announced today that there are only two critically-ill coronavirus patients left in the former epicentre Wuhan of Hubei Province. The photo taken on February 13 shows a doctor checking a patient's conditions at a hospital in Wuhan

China has announced today that there are only two critically-ill coronavirus patients left in the former epicentre Wuhan of Hubei Province. The photo taken on February 13 shows a doctor checking a patient’s conditions at a hospital in Wuhan

Over 82,000 people in mainland China have been infected with the deadly disease and at least 4,632 patients have died, according to China’s official figures.

China has recorded 1,616 ‘imported cases’ from abroad, of which 823 have recovered. A total of 77,207 coronavirus patients have been discharged from hospitals in the country.

Mi Feng, a spokesperson from the Chinese Centre of Disease Prevention and Control, said in a press conference today that Wuhan now only has two coronavirus patients in critical condition.

‘But some areas with infection clusters have seen an increase in confirmed cases,’ Mi continued.

‘[We need to] cut the source of the spread quickly, fill in the loopholes in epidemic control and firmly prevent the second wave of outbreak.’

A staff member is pictured spraying disinfectant on medical equipment on April 14 after all coronavirus patients have left Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan

A staff member is pictured spraying disinfectant on medical equipment on April 14 after all coronavirus patients have left Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan 

Mi’s announcement comes as the northern city Harbin has reported more than 70 infections in the past two weeks the virus was allegedly imported into the area amid fears of a new outbreak.

The former ground zero Hubei Province has the brunt of the coronavirus cases in China, with a total of 68,128 infections and 4,512 deaths.

There are 69 active confirmed cases in Hubei as of today and 63,547 patients have recovered from the deadly disease.

Harbin, which has air links with Russia, reported three new confirmed cases today, taking its local infections to 55, excluding recoveries discharged from hospital.

Officials have so far registered 21 asymptomatic cases, including two who were diagnosed yesterday, according to the latest government figures.

So far, Heilongjiang has reported 540 local confirmed cases, including 470 discharged from hospital. Besides Harbin, the city of Mudanjiang has two current confirmed cases.

‘Prevention measures have been stricter recently, and people from Mudanjiang or Harbin will not be allowed to come into our town,’ said a civil servant surnamed Zhang, who lives in Mishan town on the eastern edge of Heilongjiang.

Hospitals in Harbin were arranging 4,106 people to be tested in response to the cluster infections, Beijing Daily reported. 

The Second Hospital of Harbin halted its operation on Monday after all of the six cases the city registered on Sunday were said to be related to the hospital.

One persisting cluster in Harbin centred on an 87-year-old man surnamed Chen who had stayed at two hospitals since April 2, four days after dinner at home with his son’s friends, two of whom later tested positive.

Harbin, near Russia, reported three new confirmed cases today, taking its local infections to 55. Pictured, police officers in protective suits are seen at the airport of Harbin on April 11

Harbin, near Russia, reported three new confirmed cases today, taking its local infections to 55. Pictured, police officers in protective suits are seen at the airport of Harbin on April 11

Heilongjiang has been at the forefront of China's latest efforts to identify infected citizens arriving from Russia. A man is pictured keeping watch at a checkpoint in the border city of Suifenhe, Heilongjiang, on April 21

Heilongjiang has been at the forefront of China’s latest efforts to identify infected citizens arriving from Russia. A keeping watch at a checkpoint in the border city of Suifenhe

By Tuesday, Chen had infected 78 people, with 55 confirmed, though 23 who tested positive have yet to show virus symptoms.

Those infected were mainly family members, hospital patients and their families, and doctors and nurses in direct or indirect contact, provincial health officials said.

Of seven new confirmed cases in Heilongjiang on Tuesday, four were patients who had stayed in the same ward as Chen, while three were healthcare workers at one hospital.

However, Harbin’s health officials have named a 22-year-old student, who studies in New York, as the likely source of the local crisis.

According to the Harbin Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Han is a Master’s student at New York University. Her parents and brother live in Harbin.

Staff members keep watch at a checkpoint in the border city of Suifenhe on April 21

Staff members keep watch at a checkpoint in the border city of Suifenhe on April 21

She arrived in her hometown on March 19 after flying out of New York the day before and having stopovers in Hong Kong and Beijing.

Han tested negative during isolation, but local health officials said her two recent tests in April showed she had coronavirus antibodies, which indicated a previous infection.

Officials suggested that Han spread the bug to one of her neighbours, whom she never met during her quarantine, by contaminating the environment of her building.

Her neighbour, Cao, then pass the virus on to various others, who in turn transmitted it to Chen.

The virus that infected the cluster has travelled beyond the province, with health officials in neighbouring Liaoning reporting on April 16 a confirmed case whose father had stayed at the same hospital as Chen.

On Monday, the northern region of Inner Mongolia reported a confirmed case in an individual who had stayed at one of the Harbin hospitals at the same time as Chen and the Liaoning patient. 

China reported 10 new confirmed cases today, six of them imported, involving travellers from overseas, down from 23 yesterday. 

China’s tally of confirmed cases stands at 82,798, with 4,632 deaths.

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