China locks down border city
Beijing says vaccine ready for public by November
BEIJING, Sept 15: China has locked down a city on the border with Myanmar and will launch a mass coronavirus testing programme, officials said on Tuesday, after a handful of infections were detected there.
The three cases were found in the city of Ruili in western Yunnan province, a major land border crossing point with neighbouring Myanmar.
City officials said in a statement Tuesday that residents were being told to stay home and people had been forbidden from entering or leaving the city from Monday evening.
They said every resident would be tested for the virus in Ruili, which is home to more than 210,000 people.
Businesses have been closed except for supermarkets, pharmacies and food markets.
The infections were brought in from Myanmar and Chinese authorities would "crack down on illegal immigrants", the officials said.
Ruili is separated by a shallow river from the border town of Muse, Myanmar's main gateway to China known for sleazy streets, weapons, casinos and drugs.
Yang Bianqiang, vice mayor of Ruili, told a press conference on Monday that the city would repatriate those who cannot verify their time of arrival into China, "have no fixed residence and have no fixed place to work".
Meanwhile, a China-developed coronavirus vaccine could be ready for the public as early as November, a Chinese official has told state television, as the global race to clear the final round of trials heats up.
Chinese manufacturers have been bullish about development, with companies Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm even putting their vaccine candidates on display at a trade fair in Beijing this month.
Representatives of the firms told AFP that they hope their vaccines will be approved after phase 3 trials as early as year-end.
And on late Monday, the chief biosafety expert at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control told state broadcaster CCTV that a vaccine would be available to the general public "around November or December."
Wu Guizhen did not specify which vaccine she was referring to, but said "based on the phase 3 clinical results, the current progress is very smooth."
Wu added that she had taken a vaccine in April and has felt good over the past few months, although she did not specify which candidate she had taken. -AFP