Beijing in a “race against time” to fight the serious Covid epidemic | China

Authorities in Beijing have warned that a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases linked to a 24-hour bar is critical and the city of 22million is in a ‘race against time’ to cope to its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.

The surge means millions face mandatory testing and thousands face targeted lockdowns, just days after the city began lifting widespread restrictions meant to tackle a wider outbreak since late April. .

Authorities this weekend announced a “ferocious” Covid outbreak linked to the Heaven Supermarket bar, which had just reopened after the easing of coronavirus measures last week.

The outbreak of at least 287 cases has sparked fresh concerns about the outlook for the world’s second-largest economy. China is just recovering from a two-month lockdown in the city of Shanghai that had raised concerns over global supply chains.

“We should pull out all the stops, race against the clock,” He Lijian, spokesman for Beijing’s municipal government, told a news conference, referring to efforts to contain the outbreak.

Drinking and eating in most establishments in Beijing did not resume until June 6, after more than a month of measures such as takeout only and working from home, as well as the closure of shopping malls and stretches of the transportation system.

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Authorities have refrained from reinstating the toughest of previous restrictions, but around 10,000 close contacts of the bar’s patrons have been identified and their residential buildings locked down.

Chaoyang, the city’s largest district in which the bar is located, launched a three-day mass testing campaign for its roughly 3.5 million residents on Monday.

People infected in the latest outbreak live or work in 14 of the capital’s 16 districts, authorities said.

Police have opened a criminal investigation against the head of the bar for alleged interference in epidemic prevention, Pan Xuhong, deputy director of the city’s public security bureau, said at the press conference.

Pan said three other people, two of whom had visited the bar and the other had close contact with bar patrons, had been criminally investigated after they insisted on going out despite being ordered to self-isolate at home.

All three were later confirmed to have been infected, prompting the quarantine of dozens of people in centralized facilities and more than 2,000 under other Covid measures, Pan said.

The bar’s business license was revoked after officials found it failed to follow rules, including checking customers’ temperatures and Covid test results, or checking that customers scanned a digital health code , said the market regulator in Chaoyang.

Earlier in the day, the state-backed Beijing Daily said a team of officials would work to investigate and deal with the Heaven Supermarket bar “promptly, strictly and seriously”.

All bars, nightclubs, karaoke rooms, internet cafes and other entertainment venues in the city were inspected, the newspaper said, and those in underground spaces were closed as epidemic prevention work was stepped up.

The newspaper has repeatedly singled out an individual, referred to as patient No. 1,991, for initiating the surge. Negligent behavior had turned the unidentified person into a “spreader” of the epidemic.

Beijing authorities said the person did not take a Covid test between May 26 and June 8, despite visiting a number of restaurants, bars and crowded venues at the time.
The patient developed a fever on the evening of June 8, two days after a visit to Heaven supermarket.

But despite the fever, the person returned to the bar early on June 9, the same day a handful of other bar patrons were found to be infected.

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Post expires at 1:44pm on Sunday June 26th, 2022