Beijing begins mass testing amid lockdown fears

Beijing begins mass testing amid lockdown fears

 

 

Chaoyang, the largest district in China’s capital Beijing; on Monday kicked off three rounds of Covid-19 tests for all its residents even as they queued up at shops to snap up essentials amid fears of an impending Shanghai-style lockdown.

 

Dozens of new infections were reported in the last three days after spreading undetected for a week.

 

By Monday evening, Beijing had logged 70 cases since April 22, 46 of them in Chaoyang; which is home to 3.5 million people in a city of some 22 million.

 

While these numbers may be small, they likely portend a wider outbreak; — the sort seen in Shanghai where a hard lockdown is now in its fourth week after tens of thousands of new infections were recorded in recent days even when people have been barricaded in their homes.

 

China is battling by far its worst Covid-19 outbreak with the highly transmissible Omicron variant blowing past the country’s infection control measures that hitherto hinged on stamping out every single case via isolation.

 

The strategy, a so-called “Zero Covid” approach, has meant that the Chinese population; — though it has seen only a fraction of deaths as compared to nations its size; — is without the sort of natural immunity that those in other countries are able to leverage to now live with the virus.

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Speculation is rife that it’s not a question of whether but when the district of Chaoyang , and then the rest of the city, will implement curbs.

 

Residents lined up in long queues to get tested early on Monday with local Communist Party of China (CPC) volunteers barking orders urging calm and discipline.

 

Most schools, offices and markets, however, remained open in the city on Monday.

 

Chaoyang district authorities have told residents to reduce public activities and suspended in-person private tutoring classes.

 

The district has suspended all offline training sessions and group activities at various off-campus training institutions.

 

“The epidemic prevention and control situation in Beijing is severe and complex, and it faces multiple risks;” a Beijing government official said at a press conference on Monday.

 

Case numbers, however, are likely to go up.

 

“The virus has sneakily spread in the city for a week and multiple generations of cases were presented;” Tian Wei from the Beijing Municipal government was quoted as saying by state media on Sunday, indicating more Covid-19 transmissions are likely to be discovered.

 

Meanwhile, Shanghai reported the highest number of Covid-19 deaths on Monday for Sunday; as it continues to battle the worst outbreak of the disease.

 

The financial hub reported 51 new deaths among its Covid-19 patients on April 24, up from 39 the day before; the local government said on Monday.

 

The city also recorded 16,983 new local asymptomatic coronavirus cases, down from 19,657 a day earlier.

 

The number of confirmed symptomatic infections stood at 2,472, up from 1,401 the previous day, the local government added.

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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