Thursday, March 4, 2021

Beijing tightens grip to halt surge in cases detected across capital

Authorities are wary of a surge following Christmas, and determined to control the usual mass travel for Chinese New Year in February.

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Beijing authorities have tightened Covid-19 curbs over concerns that China’s mass travel at this time of the year could cause cases to spike in the capital, as it reported locally transmitted cases for a fourth straight day on Sunday.

A meeting led by the capital’s Communist party number one, Cai Qi, urged all districts in Beijing to enter an “emergency” phase, sealing off residential compounds and villages where infections are found.

Shunyi district, where all the recent coronavirus cases have been reported, has declared a wartime mode and testing for all its 800,000 people. All the cases reported over the weekend were close contacts of previous cases.

Neighbouring Chaoyang district has finished testing nearly a quarter of a million people, with none testing positive. People are not allowed to go out until they receive their test results.

Some residential compounds have reimposed temperature checks upon entry and closed off a number of entrances, according to local media reports.

China has largely brought Covid-19 under control but sporadic cases keep resurfacing in a small number of cities.

Authorities plan to vaccinate 50 million people in high-risk groups before the week-long Chinese New Year holidays begin on Feb 11, said state media Global Times.

Beijing has asked its civil servants to stay in the city from Jan 1 until the holiday and asked the public to avoid unnecessary travel during the period.

Public venues such as theme parks and churches have scaled back operating hours. Some Catholic churches in Beijing have halted group activities, the archdiocese of Beijing said on its website.

On Christmas Day, China’s ruling Communist Party leaders congratulated themselves for achieving “extremely extraordinary glory” in handling the Covid-19 outbreak domestically, ahead of a World Health Organization probe into the disease’s origins.

China faced a barrage of criticism at home and abroad over its initial handling of the virus, which emerged in the central city of Wuhan last December.

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