Shanghai, Beijing order new rounds of large-scale COVID-19 testing

Shanghai, Beijing order new rounds of large-scale COVID-19 testing

Residents in parts of Shanghai and Beijing have been ordered to undergo further rounds of COVID-19 testing after new cases were discovered in the two cities, while Hong Kong, Macao and other Chinese cities have tighter restrictions .

Shanghai has just emerged from a strict lockdown that has confined most of its 24 million residents to their homes for weeks and the new requirements have raised concerns about a return to such drastic measures.

The latest outbreak has been linked to a karaoke parlor in China’s largest city, a major international trade center, which failed to implement containment measures among employees and customers, according to the city’s health commission. The city’s culture and tourism department said all such outlets have been ordered to temporarily suspend business.

Shanghai’s lockdown prompted unusual protests both in person and online against the government’s strict enforcement, leaving many residents struggling to access food and medical services and sending thousands to quarantine centres.

Beijing has also seen a recent outbreak linked to a nightlife spot. It has been conducting routine tests for weeks and at least one residential complex in the suburb of Shunyi, which is home to many foreign residents, was cordoned off with a steel fence installed at its entrance to prevent residents from leaving Is.

Enforcement in China’s capital has been far milder than in Shanghai, although authorities require regular testing and containment measures.

In the northern city of Xi’an, whose 13 million residents endured one of China’s strictest lockdowns over the winter, restaurants have been restricted to takeout only and public entertainment venues closed for a week starting Wednesday. have been given.

A notice on the city government’s website said the measures were only temporary and aimed at preventing the possibility of a fresh outbreak. It said supermarkets, offices, public transport and other facilities are operating as normal, with regular checks including temperature checks and people needing to show an app to prove they are free of infection.

Macau’s gambling center has meanwhile closed the famous Grand Lisboa hotel after discovering cases there. More than a dozen residential and commercial centers in the Chinese Special Autonomous Region of about 650,000 people have been designated as “red zones”, with access restricted almost exclusively to emergency workers.

Authorities have ordered the closure of most establishments with the exception of casinos, which are Macau’s main revenue generators and among the city’s biggest employers.

City residents will have to undergo three citywide COVID-19 tests this week. The local outbreak is Macau’s largest since the pandemic began, with more than 900 infections reported since mid-June.

Neighboring Hong Kong has also seen an increasing trend of coronavirus infections since mid-June. In the last seven days, the average daily infections were recorded at around 2,000 per day.

The city’s new leader, John Lee, said on Wednesday that Hong Kong should not lie “flatly” when it comes to COVID-19, rejecting the “living with the coronavirus” mentality that most people in the world have. has adopted.

His comments echo the sentiments of Chinese officials, who have stuck with their “zero-Covid” policy, which are closely identified with the chairman and head of the ruling Communist Party.

However, Lee has said that Hong Kong authorities are exploring options, including reducing the period of mandatory quarantine for arriving travelers. Currently, passengers must test negative for COVID-19 before flight and quarantine for seven days in designated hotels upon arrival.

Once a bustling business hub and international financial hub, the city has paralyzed tourism and business travel due to its strict entry restrictions.

The strict measures remain in place, despite a relatively small number of cases and severe negative effects on China’s economy and global supply chains.

The World Health Organization recently called the policy untenable, an idea Chinese officials dismissed outright, while they say they hope to minimize the impact.

While China’s borders remain largely closed, officials have cautiously increased flights from some foreign countries, most recently Russia, cutting off both incoming tourists and outbound tourism.

Mainland China on Wednesday reported 353 cases of domestic transmission, of which 241 were asymptomatic.

Shanghai announced just 24 cases in the past 24 hours, and Beijing five. Anhui announced 222 cases, what appears to be the latest cluster, prompting the inland province to order mass testing and travel restrictions in Si County, where the vast majority of cases have been reported.

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