750 meters to China: how the Russian border city lives during an outbreak of coronavirus
In Russia, due to the coronavirus quarantine, the border with China and Mongolia has been closed. But passenger corridors continue to operate in the Amur Region, through which the Chinese leave for their homeland and Russian citizens return. There are three such corridors in Blagoveshchensk. The city is located on the border with China: on the other side of the river is the Chinese city of Heihe, which is only 750 meters away, says “Present Time”.
Before the appearance of the coronavirus, the lives of Blagoveshchensk and Heihe were closely intertwined: the Chinese came to the Russian coast to trade and buy Russian food. The Russians went to China to work part time and study. But now, because of quarantine, Blagoveshchensk is empty - there are practically no Chinese left, and the Russians are urgently returning home from abroad.
Half-empty buses with Russians arrive through temporary passenger corridors from Heihe to Blagoveshchensk: the few remaining Russian citizens from different regions of China return home due to an outbreak of coronavirus. Many do not hide that they are upset. Living in quarantine in China is difficult.
“I was hoping that the situation would return to normal. I thought that studies would begin and everything would be fine. But everything is shifting, the situation is getting worse, so I decided to go home, ”says Yulia Okhrinenko, a student at Harbin University.
In Heihe, there are no longer masks in pharmacies, you have to order them on the Internet, says tourist Elena Ivanova: “Everything is closed. People are not even allowed out of the courtyards - the courtyards are closed. Even an ambulance cannot enter the yard ”.
Medical examination in Blagoveshchensk are all tourists without exception.
“First we examine the patient - the throat, we measure the temperature. Then we take swabs from the nose, from the throat, and then the blood is taken. And we also send them to the urine collection, ”explains the nurse Viktoria Bronnikova.
Screening at the border is only the first stage of a medical examination. The arrivals will be under the supervision of doctors for another two weeks.
While the Russians are returning through the Annunciation Corridor, Chinese citizens are leaving for Heihe in the same way. Russia closed its borders with China and Mongolia in January this year. Since February 20, Chinese citizens and the import of goods have been completely banned. Due to quarantine, many entrepreneurs in the Amur Region were left without workers. Due to quarantine in Blagoveshchensk, the local market was empty. Now there are noticeably fewer Chinese sellers, there is no replenishment of goods. And there are fewer local buyers.
The Confucius Institute at the Annunciation State Pedagogical University had to cancel classes due to quarantine. Of the 250 Chinese students in the city, only six remained.
Nikolay Kukharenko, head of the department for scientific work and international cooperation, BSPU, says that the educational institution has switched to distance learning: “We have a university system of distance education, we upload tasks there. Students log in using their username and password, fill them in, report to the teachers. Where eye contact is needed, we use the Chinese WeChat messenger, because it is more familiar to the guys, and many other social networks are blocked. "
Teachers say that the second semester is already definitely broken. But the main problem is the upcoming state examinations. They cannot be transferred or carried out in absentia, but many students simply run the risk of not having time to return to delivery and may be left without diplomas.
“Many guys here wanted to finish their bachelor's degree and go to Moscow or St. Petersburg to enter the magistracy. Our guys often do this because they get a Russian diploma, good knowledge and, in principle, they do it easily. And now they are also in question, as is their future fate, ”explains Nikolai Kukharenko.
The government of the Amur Region has not yet announced the date of opening the borders. In the first week of March, the Heihe - Blagoveshchensk corridor will operate for three more days: on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. So far, none of the Russians who have returned to Blagoveshchensk have been diagnosed with coronavirus.
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