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Chinese province near North Korea confirms new COVID-19 cluster

Chinese province near North Korea confirms new COVID-19 cluster
Authorities in the Chinese province of Jilin have confirmed a new COVID-19 cluster in a city not far from North Korea. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

May 13 (UPI) -- Chinese authorities in the northeastern province of Jilin warned Wednesday of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases as they ordered a lockdown of Jilin City.

The province's health commission said on its proprietary website authorities confirmed six new cases of COVID-19. The cases include one "asymptomatic patient."

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The six new patients are located in the cities of Shulan and Jilin and are part of virus clusters.

The total number of confirmed patients in the province, which borders North Korea, is 21, authorities say. Patient No. 1 in the cluster may have spread the virus while in close contact with family and co-workers at a laundry facility. A patient in adjacent Liaoning Province has also been linked to the clusters in Jilin, according to reports.

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Zunyou Wou, an epidemiologist with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told local media it is likely the recent wave of infections originates from Russia.

Chinese citizens who were repatriated amid the pandemic may have infected public security officials during entry, Wou said. Uniforms worn by the officials sent to laundry facilities may have in turn led to infections among laundry workers, according to reports.

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Bayin Chaolu, secretary of Jilin Province, said Tuesday the wave of infections must be stopped in order to prevent a massive outbreak in the region.

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"There must be no transmission from the city of Jilin to other regions," Bayin said.

China and North Korea share an 880-mile border and are openly cooperating on containing COVID-19.

Chinese state-owned news agency Xinhua reported Saturday Chinese President Xi Jinping is "willing to enhance anti-epidemic cooperation" with North Korea, as well as "provide as much support as its capacity allows for North Korea, in line with the latter's needs."

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Xi was responding to a message from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent earlier in the year, according to the report.

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