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

Chaoyang District, one of the city’s largest districts, announced Sunday that it will begin three rounds of mass testing for those who work and live in the area, the number of about 3.5 million, according to the latest census.

This announcement came after the discovery of 11 cases within 24 hours, which sparked panic in the area that includes the business center and a number of foreign embassies, as residents rushed to stock up on basic commodities in a state of closure, despite the authorities’ assurances that there are abundant supplies.

Beijing officials said over the weekend that they were tracing cases across multiple regions involving students, tour groups and interior decoration workers. The capital recorded 19 new local cases on Sunday, bringing the city’s total since April 22 to 60, according to National Health data released Monday morning.

“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 the failure of a weeks-long lockdown that brought the financial center to a standstill.. The city recorded more than 19,000 new cases and 51 deaths on Sunday, according to official figures released Monday morning.

The daily death toll marks a record high since city officials first reported deaths in the city’s ongoing outbreak last Monday, though questions have been asked about whether the numbers account for all deaths.

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In Beijing, authorities mobilized to curb transmission, placing many residential communities in Chaoyang under a “management of control,” according to state media, using a term that usually means residents are prevented from leaving the area while they are being tested. A local official warned Sunday that business disruption is inevitable in the fight against the outbreak.

Officials said, Saturday, that checks will increase in tourist groups in the city, after discovering cases of infection 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 where mass testing has been carried out has also been locked down.

The rush to contain the outbreak comes as fears grow 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 each outbreak.

That policy faced its biggest challenge since March 1, when a highly transmissible Omicron variant triggered multiple 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 restrictionsaccording to a census earlier this month.

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