Jul 13, 2020 06:32 PM

Chinese Oil Refinery Workers Caught Up In Suspected Russian Covid-19 Cluster

What’s new: A suspected cluster infection of Covid-19 has broken out at an oil refinery operated by a subsidiary of China National Chemical Engineering Group, in the city of Omsk in Russia’s Siberia region, bordering the central Asian country of Kazakhstan. At least 12 Chinese workers employed by the state-owned chemical enterprise have tested positive with their close contacts quarantined as of Sunday, Caixin has learned.

The cases were discovered days after the company launched an extensive testing program on more than 1800 employees Wednesday last week. The plant has been closed and roommates of positive cases have been quarantined in hotels for observation.

Multiple Chinese employees at the plant told Caixin that more than 400 co-workers began to develop symptoms in late June. The management of the company disagrees with this version of events and believes about 50 workers at most had symptoms.

The source of the suspected infection cluster at the plant has not been immediately identified.

A manager at the plant told Caixin that the company had planned to send workers back to China with chartered flights and buses, which have not yet been approved.

The background: Both Russia and neighboring Kazakhstan have been embroiled in Covid-19 epidemics. With nearly three quarters of a million infections, Russia ranks fourth worldwide in confirmed cases.

Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan warned its nationals of high rates of coronavirus deaths in a statement (link in Chinese) last week. A total of 1772 deaths have been recorded in the first half of the year, with 628 in June, according to the statement.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Lu Zhenhua ( and editor Marcus Ryder (

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