Beijing tightens COVID-19 restrictions amid fresh outbreak

Beijing’s municipal government on Tuesday tightened its control and prevention measures to contain the fresh COVID-19 outbreak in the biggest wholesale food market of the Chinese capital, state media said on Tuesday.

People considered to be high risk, including those who came into contact with the 106 infected individuals detected since June 11, will not be able to leave the capital and those who have already left must inform the authorities, Efe news quoted the state-run Global Times newspaper as saying.

In addition, Beijing authorities have banned taxis and other transport services from leaving the city, the Municipal Commission of Transportation said on Tuesday.

So far, more than 29 neighbourhoods around the Xinfadi market and Yuquandong have been sealed off and its residents remain confined under strict security controls, Global Times reported.

Beijing’s municipal government announced on Monday that the city was in “war-time mode” to tackle the new outbreak, and more than 100,000 workers are monitoring 7,120 neighbourhoods to prevent the spread of the infection.

Health authorities reported 27 new confirmed cases on Monday in the city, which is testing anyone who has had contact with confirmed cases or who have visited the Xinfadi food market, which has been closed since Saturday.

Around 200,000 people visited the market since May 30 and have been interviewed through home visits, calls and social media platforms along with other measures, Xinhua news agency reported.

In addition to the 27 cases detected in the capital, China recorded another five locally transmitted infections: four in the northern Hebei province, adjacent to Beijing, and one in the southwestern Sichuan province.

The situation has prompted local governments of other regions of the country impose quarantine on those coming from Beijing, the Chinese media reported, adding that a confirmed case in Sichuan had traveled from the capital.

The secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, Cai Qi, on Tuesday said that city is in a “critical situation” and that the control and prevention measures against the virus should be the highest priority, state broadcaster CGTN said.

Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan on Sunday urged decisive measures to stop the spread of the fresh outbreak, along with strict epidemiological investigations and comprehensive tracing to identify and control the source of infection.

He also called on residents to strictly comply with the prevention measures and quarantine for suspected cases.

The city has also intensified the inspection of markets for fresh produce, frozen pork, beef, lamb and poultry products, and other businesses, including supermarkets and restaurants, are being examined to ensure that no products contaminated with the virus are circulating.

The National Health Commission of China said Tuesday that 40 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the country the previous day, including the 27 the capital.

Eight of the cases were detected in travellers returning from overseas while 32 were locally transmitted.

The NHC did not report any new deaths due to virus and said that three serious cases were added, while seven patients were discharged.

The total active cases in China stands at 210 with five of them in critical condition.

The country has reported a total of 83,221 cases, with 4,634 deaths.