Chinese border city restricts activities for cargos by highway as COVID-19 infections grow

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BEIJING, Dec 2 (Reuters) - A Chinese city adjacent to Russia said that starting Friday, it would suspend certain activities for goods transported via highway, its latest move to tighten virus curbs along borders amid its COVID-19 resurgence.

The highway port of entry in Manzhouli city, a small town in the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, will halt cargo loading and unloading, transportation and clearance at customs, part of the city's efforts to strengthen virus control, a local government statement said on Thursday.

It was unclear when the suspension would be lifted.

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Manzhouli reported 53 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections with confirmed symptoms for Dec. 1, bringing the total number to 151 since Nov. 28. The outbreak remains tiny compared with many clusters overseas, and no infections caused by the Omicron variant have been detected yet.

Still, Manzhouli has quickly launched multiple rounds of mass testing and banned residents from leaving, as it complies with Beijing's zero tolerance for clusters.

A key international logistics hub, Manzhouli on Wednesday suspended accepting imported cargos by rail that are non-containerised and require manual loading and unloading.

A highway that connects Manzhouli and Russia's Zabaykalsk had been shut since April 2020, Manzhouli's vice mayor Cheng Guobin said on Wednesday.

In the northeastern Heilongjiang province, Harbin city has closed many public entertainment venues, suspended in-person school classes in areas of infection risk and halted a campaign to boost consumption, after it reported on Thursday a handful of local symptomatic cases.

Harbin vowed to give 10,000 yuan ($1,569) to each infected person who, before being confirmed to have caught the virus, volunteered to take a COVID test or went to a hospital, part of the city's efforts to quickly identify patients.

($1 = 6.3735 Chinese yuan renminbi)

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Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Gerry Doyle

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