March 21, 2023

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Beijing races to contain 'urgent and grim' Covid outbreak as Shanghai remains in lockdown

Beijing races to contain ‘urgent and grim’ Covid outbreak as Shanghai remains in lockdown

Beijing officials said at a press conference on Saturday that they were tracing cases across multiple regions involving students, tour groups and interior decoration workers. The national health authorities said Sunday morning that the capital recorded 22 new local cases on Saturday.

“The city has recently experienced several outbreaks involving multiple transmission chains, and the risk of continued undetected transmission is high. The situation is urgent and bleak,” municipal official Tian Wei told reporters on Saturday. “The whole city must act immediately.”

The pressure to contain the outbreak in the capital comes as cases continue to grow in Shanghai, despite a failed weeks-long lockdown that has brought the financial center to a standstill. The city reported more than 20,000 new cases on Saturday, according to national figures released Sunday morning.

On Sunday, Shanghai officials also announced 39 new deaths among Covid-19 patients. That’s a record high since city officials first reported deaths in the city’s ongoing outbreak on Monday, though questions have been asked about whether the numbers account for all deaths.

Officials in Beijing said authorities were mobilized to curb transmission as more than 20 cases were discovered in the capital over a period from midnight Friday morning to 4 pm Saturday afternoon. One middle school where multiple cases were discovered was closed Friday, with students and teachers in the area requiring multiple Covid-19 tests over the next week.

Several residential communities in the same area have also been placed under a “monitoring department,” according to state media, using a term that usually means residents are prohibited from leaving the area while they are undergoing testing.

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Officials also warned parents not to travel outside the city for fear of a resurgence of infection.

Officials said that the level of examination in tourist groups will be raised, after infection cases were discovered among a group of elderly tourists who are now subject to quarantine. At least one village in a Beijing suburb linked to a positive case while mass testing was underway, has been locked down.

The rush to contain the outbreak comes as fear grows across China that stricter measures may be in store as the country adheres to a strict “zero COVID” policy to stem the spread of the virus in every outbreak.

That policy has faced its biggest challenge since March 1, with a largely transmissible Omicron variant causing several simultaneous outbreaks. The number of cases has swelled to unprecedented levels in China, driven by outbreaks in the northeastern Jilin Province and Shanghai.

Forced lockdowns and quarantines have begun in Shanghai anger and despair Among the citizens who struggled to get food and medical care. The city had previously said it would not implement a complete citywide lockdown, leaving many unprepared when officials quickly changed course late last month.
Restrictions also extended to other regions as dozens of cities started Some form of lockdown restrictions, according to a census earlier this month. New local cases were reported in 19 counties on Saturday, according to national data.