Beijing reports fresh COVID-19 outbreak, imposes emergency restrictions

With a fresh cluster of COVID-19 infections emerging in China’s capital city Beijing, authorities are rapidly moving efforts to contain the virus transmission. As described by the Beijing Municipal Committee on Monday, the Coronavirus situation in the city is “extremely severe” with more than 100 new cases in the past few days. The new Coronavirus infections can be traced to Beijing’s popular Xinfadi wholesale food market, which supplies most of the city’s meat and vegetables.

Intensifying efforts to tackle the fresh virus outbreak, Beijing authorities have launched a massive testing campaign targeting all workers and visitors to the wholesale market. Since May 30, about 2 lakh people are said to have visited the Xinfadi market. In view of recent development, almost 30 communities in the city have been locked down and tens of thousands of people are being tested.

Fearing an increase in the spread of the virus, new restrictions have been announced by the Beijing city government. According to government officials, Beijing’s emergency response to COVID-19 has been upgraded from level III to level II starting from Tuesday. Officials are, reportedly, stopping people, living in high-risk zones, from leaving the capital, asking them to avoid any non-essential travel outside the city.  Residents have been asked to avoid any “non-essential travel”. More than 20 residential areas in Fengtai and Haidian have been locked down, wearing face masks in public spaces has been mandated, sports group tours between the provinces have been suspended and share-taxi services have been halted.

Addressing a press conference recently, Chen Bei, deputy secretary-general of Beijing municipal government, said: “Anyone leaving Beijing must have a negative reading on a nucleic acid test taken within seven days (prior to departure)”.

As per reports, authorities have started conducting the nucleic acid tests on about 90,000 people.

Moreover, the local education commission has ordered shutting down of all schools, which had opened only weeks ago after strict pandemic lockdown. Online classes have made a comeback across the educational sector in Beijing, with universities being asked to suspend the return of students amid the ongoing situation.

On Wednesday, more than 60% of commercial flights were canceled by the capital city, as reported by Chinese media. Raising alert on travel, a total of 1,255 flights operating to and from Beijing two major airports were canceled in the wake of a new Coronavirus outbreak.

This development has come weeks after China declared success in containing the virus, following which the administration had announced easing much of its restrictions. According to China’s chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou, the next few days can be critical to analyze the spread of the virus, not only in Beijing but in Wuhan district as well, where the novel Coronavirus originated last year in November-December.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has also expressed concern about the fresh Coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese capital, noting the rest of the world is still working on combating the disease.

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