By John Xie
China on Saturday sealed off another village in Inner Mongolia after a resident died from bubonic plague, the second lockdown in the region in two days.
According to a statement issued by the Health Commission of Bayannaoer, a local patient suffering with the centuries-old disease died Friday of multiple organ failure. He was the second victim of the plague reported this month in the northern Chinese region.
“The place of residence of the deceased is locked down, and a comprehensive epidemiological investigation is being carried out,” the announcement posted on the commission’s website said.
The first lockdown was announced Thursday in an adjacent city when the health commission of Baotou announced a villager there had died of circulatory system failure.
The bubonic plague is a highly infectious and often fatal disease, “with a case-fatality ratio of 30% – 100% if left untreated,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The authorities in both cities issued a third-level alert – the second lowest in a four-level system – effective immediately until the end of 2020, to prevent the spread of the disease.
While the disease is spread mostly by rodents, authorities in both cities have warned that human-to-human transmission is possible. “Currently, there is a risk of human plague spreading in our city,” the statement reads.
All close and secondary contacts of the patients have been quarantined, the two commissions said. They also urged people to reduce contact with wild animals and avoid hunting, skinning or eating animals that could cause infection.
Cases are becoming increasingly rare in recent years in China. According to China’s National Health Commission, there were five cases in 2019, with one death. Worldwide, there are 1,000 to 2,000 cases each year that are reported to the WHO.