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Global Times

Beijing beefs up measures to curb coronavirus spread

Global Times

By Cao Siqi and Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/16 17:18:18

Since the latest outbreak of COVID-19 was first uncovered in Beijing's largest wholesale food market on Thursday, Beijing reported a total of 106 confirmed cases as of Tuesday. In just five days, the capital city has been beefing up its prevention measures to curb the spread of the virus by locking down 29 residential communities, putting four large districts into "wartime mode," disinfecting 276 food markets, shutting down 11 underground and semi-underground markets, screening over 200,000 people within 72 hours and postponing classes in schools and closing entertainment venues.

That makes it the most serious outbreak in China since February, dragging local citizens about to embrace normal life back to caution mode which they underwent four months ago. It demonstrates what "normalized epidemic prevention and control" means, as experts have been saying for months, and raised the questions, "Will the current prevention and control situation in Beijing be upgraded again? Is a second wave of the respiratory disease coming? And Will Beijing be locked down as a second Wuhan?"

Upgraded measures

In a rare move since Sunday, Beijing has been holding press conferences about the COVID-19 situation twice a day. On Tuesday's morning conference, health authorities reported another 27 confirmed cases in Beijing, bringing the total to 106.

Beijing government officials also announced that 29 communities were under lockdown, as number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continued to rise, and that the epidemic situation was deemed "very grim."

Chen Yankai, a deputy director of the Beijing market supervision bureau, said Beijing has disinfected 276 farm produce markets and closed 11 such underground and semi-underground markets as of 6 am Tuesday, and a total of 33,173 catering services providers have also been disinfected. Beijing is expected to finish city-wide sanitation of markets and restaurants by Wednesday.

Meanwhile, "high-risk" people were banned from leaving Beijing. All outbound taxi and car-hailing services and some long-distance bus routes between Beijing and nearby provinces were suspended. Shanghai also demanded that travelers from some "higher-risk" Beijing districts be quarantined for two weeks.

As of Tuesday, four districts in Beijing - Chaoyang, Fengtai, Mentougou and Daxing - have entered "wartime mode". Fengtai district, where the Xinfadi wholesale food market is located, is the first one to declare "wartime mode", lock down residential communities, and delay the reopening of classes in schools.

Mentougou and Daxing districts have been going door to door to find out if anyone has been to the Xinfadi market within the last 14 days, while Chaoyang district requires all communities to enter wartime status and strengthen the prevention work in their communities.

Several districts, including Huairou and Pinggu, released the results of nucleic acid tests on Tuesday. A total of 4,729 people and 468 key groups who had been to the Xinfadi market or had any link to the market were found negative. Nucleic acid tests of environmental samples from several sites at a wet market in Xicheng district turned out to be positive. Sixty-two related people were quarantined.

As of press time, 22 sub-districts in Beijing have been classified as medium-risk regions for the COVID-19, while Huaxiang in Fengtai districts has been classified as the only epidemic high-risk area in Beijing.

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