HomeWorld NewsBeijing warns of 'explosive' COVID outbreak as Shanghai begins mass testing

Beijing warns of ‘explosive’ COVID outbreak as Shanghai begins mass testing

SHANGHAI, June 11 (Reuters) – China’s capital Beijing is facing an “explosive” outbreak of COVID-19 linked to a bar, a government spokesman warned on Saturday, as the Shanghai mall began testing mass to contain an increase in cases linked to a popular beauty salon.

The warning follows a further tightening of COVID restrictions in Beijing since Thursday, with at least two districts – including the most populous, Chaoyang – closing some entertainment venues after an outbreak in a bustling area known for its nightlife, shopping 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.

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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 the resurgence of COVID, 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.

CITY-WIDE TEST

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 concerns among many residents struggling with loss of income, loss of freedom, the death of friends and relatives, and even starvation during this time. Read more

“I’m a bit worried because if there are positive cases in the compound, it will be sealed off,” said Shanghai resident Shi Weiqi. “I will also stock up on supplies properly in case the previous situation happens again.”

On Saturday, Shanghai reported seven new local symptomatic cases for the previous day, one more than a day earlier, six of which were detected outside quarantine zones.

The city also recorded nine new local asymptomatic cases, up from six the previous day.

In total, mainland China reported 210 new coronavirus cases for June 10, of which 79 were symptomatic and 131 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said on Saturday.

That amounted to 151 new cases a day earlier – 45 symptomatic and 106 asymptomatic infections, which China counts separately.

As of Friday, mainland China had confirmed 224,659 cases with symptoms.

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Reporting by Andrew Galbraith, Ryan Woo, Brenda Goh and Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Kim Coghill and David Holmes

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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