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Beijing warns of outbreak as Shanghai begins mass testing

SHANGHAI: Beijing, the Chinese capital, is facing an “explosive” outbreak of Covid-19 linked to a bar, a government spokesman warned on Saturday, as the Shanghai shopping center began mass testing to contain an increase in cases linked to a popular beauty salon.

The warning follows a further tightening of Covid curbs in Beijing since Thursday, with at least two neighborhoods – including the most populous, Chaoyang – closing some entertainment venues after an outbreak in a bustling area known for its nightlife, its shops and its streets of embassies.

As China’s infection rate is low by global standards, President Xi Jinping has doubled down on his zero Covid policy which authorities say is necessary to protect the elderly and the medical system, even as other countries are trying to live with the virus.

So far, the country of 1.4 billion people has recorded a total of just 5,226 deaths. The latest cases in Beijing were linked to a drinking establishment known as Heaven Supermarket Bar. Infections have since risen, with Beijing saying on Saturday that all of the 61 new cases discovered in the city on Friday had either visited the bar or had links to it.

“The recent outbreak of cases related to Heaven Supermarket Bar is highly explosive in nature and wide-ranging in scope, and the composition of those involved is also complex,” Beijing municipal government spokesperson Xu Hejian said during a briefing. briefing.

The capital reported 46 new local Covid cases as of 3 p.m. local time (0700 GMT) on Saturday, health official Liu Xiaofeng said at the same briefing. All of the cases were discovered among individuals already in isolation or under observation, Liu said. The city did not announce new curbs during the briefing.

A total of 115 cases and 6,158 close contacts linked to the bar have been reported so far, sending the city of 22 million into a state of anxiety. Less than two weeks ago, Beijing eased Covid restrictions imposed to tackle a major outbreak that began in April.

With Covid resurgence, the sprawling Universal Beijing Resort – a theme park on the outskirts of the city – canceled a reopening plan on Friday night, saying it would remain closed until further notice. Three of its employees had visited the Heaven Supermarket bar, according to authorities in Beijing.

Many areas of the capital have been quarantined, with residents told to stay at home.

In Shanghai, city officials announced three new local confirmed cases and one asymptomatic case detected outside quarantine zones on Saturday, as nearly all of the city’s 25 million residents began a new round of Covid testing.

Authorities over the weekend ordered PCR tests for all residents in 15 of Shanghai’s 16 districts, with five districts banning residents from leaving their homes during the testing period. Shanghai residents should take at least one PCR test a week until July 31, a city official told a news conference on Saturday.

The new tests come just 10 days after the city lifted a two-month lockdown aimed at eliminating community spread of Covid-19, raising concern among many residents struggling with loss of income, loss of freedom, the death of friends and relatives, and even hunger during this time.

Posted in Dawn, June 12, 2022

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Post expires at 3:27pm on Wednesday June 22nd, 2022