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People's Daily Online

Beijing conducts mass testing

People's Daily Online

(China Daily) 08:14, June 16, 2020

Beijing tightened measures to cope with the new cluster of local COVID-19 infections as the number of confirmed cases in the city rose to 79 from Thursday to Sunday and up to 100,000 social workers joined communities' epidemic control work.

The capital reported 36 new patients with COVID-19 on Sunday, the majority of whom worked at or had been to Xinfadi wholesale market in Beijing's southern Fengtai district. In addition to the confirmed cases, another seven are asymptomatic infections under medical observation.

Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the municipal government, said this outbreak is closely related to the Xinfadi market, and the government will employ the strictest investigation to find the source of the infection and curb the spread of the virus.

Nearly 8,000 people who run businesses or make purchases in Xinfadi had received nucleic acid tests by Sunday and have been transferred to isolation locations for centralized medical observation.

Up to 90,000 residents living in 21 communities near Xinfadi and Yuquandong-another market whose operations have been suspended due to the new COVID-19 infections in the capital-are receiving nucleic acid tests. All those communities are closed and under strict management.

Around 200,000 people had been to Xinfadi since May 30 based on a citywide data collection campaign. Those people will get nucleic acid tests and, meanwhile, must stay at home for self-observation.

"By 2 pm on Sunday, we had completed nucleic acid testing for 29,386 people who had visited the Xinfadi market in the past 14 days," said Gao Xiaojun, a spokesman for the Beijing Health Commission. "Out of all the samples, 12,973 came negative and the rest are awaiting results."

"Beijing will raise the prevention level of all communities by resuming temperature checks before entering and disinfection of public areas," said Xu Ying, an official at the city's antivirus leading work group. "Places for cultural events and entertainment will suspend operations," Xu added.

He said that on Monday, nearly 100,000 social workers were mobilized in 7,120 communities and villages in Beijing to help fight COVID-19.

Wang Guiqiang, head of the infectious diseases department at Peking University First Hospital, said the number of cases in Beijing might continue to increase based on the current situation, according to a report by chinanews.com on Monday.

"Some people's infections may not be detected yet. Thus, they might keep spreading the virus," he said. "The risk still exists, so we need to strengthen testing and screening."

The National Health Commission announced on Sunday that it had sent a team of experts to Beijing to guide COVID-19 prevention and control work. The team included the head of the commission, experts with experience in Wuhan and top experts in epidemiological investigation and environmental disinfection.

Facing the sudden increase in the number of local cases, the municipal education authority announced on Sunday that students who have resumed on-campus classes can choose to study at home if they wish. Students in their final year of junior high and senior high school will finish their classes 14 days in advance of the date of their final exams and study at home.

"We want to ensure the health and safety of every student," said Li Yi, a spokesman for the Beijing Education Commission. He said provision of online study materials will continue.

Students who study at school should wear masks at all times, including during classes, the commission said on Monday.

When students have outdoor activities and take part in sports, they can take off their masks while maintaining social distance, it said.

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