Authorities on High Alert About Northern China Virus Outbreak, as Beijing District Is Marked ‘High-Risk’

By Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.
April 20, 2020Updated: June 15, 2020

Chaoyang district in Beijing city was officially designated a “high-risk region” for the virus outbreak on April 19. This is the first such region outside of Hubei province, China’s CCP virus epicenter, that authorities publicly acknowledged.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread in northeastern China’s Harbin city.

Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of Beijing municipal CDC, said at a press conference on April 20: “A region with more than 50 infections and a cluster outbreak within 14 days will be counted as a high-risk region.”

However, Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, did not get this designation—despite authorities having announced at least 58 domestic diagnosed patients between April 9 to April 19, and several cluster outbreaks occurring at Harbin Medical University (HMU) First Affiliated Hospital, Harbin No. 2 Hospital, as well as in residential compounds.

The majority of the city is set as “low risk” areas. Only Daowai and Nangang districts were classified as “medium risk regions.”

Pang did not provide details about the cases in Chaoyang district, but the city’s health commission has only announced three domestic cases in the whole city between March 24 and April 20.

The Epoch Times also obtained a series of internal documents from the Heilongjiang provincial government, in which authorities admitted that “the outbreak in Harbin is in an aggregated, explosive situation.”

Chaoyang District

State-run newspaper Beijing News reported on April 20 that people from Chaoyang district were being treated differently when they travel to other cities.

“It doesn’t matter whether the person is working or living in Chaoyang district. Before he or she enters our residential compound, he or she has to stay at a quarantine center for 14 days. The cost is 175 yuan ($25) per day, and must be paid by the person,” the report quoted a government staff in Shijiazhuang city, Hebei province as saying.

Beijing News received similar answers from government staff in Tianjin, Langfang, and other cities.

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese women wear protective masks as they stand outside closed shops and restaurants near the Forbidden City in Beijing, China on April 19, 2020. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

On April 16, the Beijing municipal health commission announced three domestic infections.

According to the announcement, a Chinese student took a flight from Miami to San Francisco on March 22, then flew to Hong Kong, and arrived in Beijing on March 24.

Because the student has had rhinitis, coughing, and gout for years, he was sent directly from the airport to a hospital for diagnosis. The test results came back negative. The student was sent to a quarantine center for medical observation on March 28.

On March 30, the student was transferred to another quarantine center after another passenger who took the same flight from Hong Kong to Beijing was diagnosed with the virus.

On April 8, the student was transported back to his home in Chaoyang district after all tests came back negative. On April 10, the student developed a fever. On April 13, he had more severe symptoms and his father sent him to a hospital. That day, he tested positive for the virus and was counted as an imported case.

After the student was sent to hospital, his mother, young brother, and grandfather started to have symptoms. All three were diagnosed on April 15 and counted as domestic cases.

So far, it’s unclear the real reason behind the “high-risk region” designation.


On April 20, a netizen shot a video and shared online about a residential unit that was sealed at Jincheng compound in Acheng district, Harbin.

A notice from the local government can be seen on the entrance door, stating that residents who live at the unit are suspected of being infected. The video then shows a woman working in the local neighborhood committee. She said that the residents inside were in fact diagnosed with the virus.

Meanwhile, the Heilongjiang task force set up to combat the virus sent out a “Warning Notice” on April 13, analyzing the outbreak in Harbin in recent days. The Epoch Times obtained a copy of this internal notice.

Epoch Times Photo
Screenshot of the Heilongjiang provincial government document about the CCP virus outbreak in the capital of Harbin, issued on April 13, 2020. (Provided to The Epoch Times by insider)

It described reasons such as: residential compounds did not restrict people’s gatherings and allowed people to have parties, which caused cluster outbreaks; and hospitals did not control the situation properly, causing the virus to spread broadly and quickly among staff and patients.

It also faulted the Harbin city government.

“On March 31, 39 people [in Harbin] were diagnosed positive. But the city government didn’t track down the patients’ recent activities and where they were infected. It didn’t even strengthen control measures,” the document stated.

The Heilongjiang health commission did not publicly announce the 39 cases mentioned above.

On April 17, the provincial government issued another internal document about reinforcing the reporting of cases within the province.

The government asked city and county governments to “choose the correct political side” in cooperating with provincial authorities and reporting local cases.

It added that any authority that does not report outbreaks to the provincial government will be punished by law.

It is worth mentioning that the Harbin government clarified on April 15 that the person whom they initially claimed to have transmitted the virus and caused a new outbreak was not the culprit.

State-run newspaper Heilongjiang Daily reported that the person is a 22-year-old woman surnamed Han, not the previously described man. She entered China on March 19 from the United States and has been tested several times for the virus. All results were negative.