Tuesday, February 7

The resurgence of covid in China threatens to confine Beijing

Screening center for covid-19, in Pelín. / AFP

The rise in infections has forced massive tests to be carried out on the almost 21 million inhabitants of the capital to stop the advance of the virus

More than two years have passed since the world population was hit by a new and unknown pathogen discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan that was spreading at breakneck speed. Globally, this viral threat has infected more than 510 million people and killed another 6,22. It has been two years with masks and hydroalcoholic gel as protagonists. And just when the international community was taking its first steps towards normality since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the alarms went off again in China, where after confining the 26 million inhabitants of Shanghai, the outbreak in the Asian giant threatens to the bolt of Beijing.

Despite weeks of confinement since the beginning of April, China’s largest city reported 39 deaths last Sunday, its highest number. The ‘covid zero’ policy to eradicate its worst outbreak since 2020 has prompted harsh lockdowns and massive testing. And the same future augurs for the 21 million inhabitants in the Chinese capital, where the authorities claim to live in a “difficult situation” after an increase in infections.

On Sunday, more than twenty positives were registered and the capital applied the bolt to a downtown housing complex. The virus has “spread invisibly, affecting schools, tour groups and many families,” says health official Pang Xinghuo. The authorities have imposed strict entry controls in Beijing. Travelers are also required to have a negative test of less than 48 hours and access is prohibited to those who have traveled to cities where a single case of covid has been registered in the last two weeks.

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panic in supermarkets

The rise in infections (33 new cases this Tuesday, a figure still very far from the 16,000 registered in Shanghai) has forced massive tests for the almost 21 million inhabitants of the capital, at the same time that fears grow that the bolt is applied in the territory. After detecting dozens of positives in the territory, the authorities ordered the population of its twelve central districts to undergo three rounds of PCR tests.

The mass screening decreed in Chaoyang, the most populous district of Beijing with 3.5 million people, caused panic. There were long queues in supermarkets, with neighbors who filled their shopping carts as much as possible to supply their homes for fear of a harsh confinement, like the one that Shanghai has been experiencing since the beginning of the month and where the closure has caused a serious shortage of food and other essential supplies, as the authorities themselves have recognized, surprised by the aggressiveness of the infections. Eleven other districts, which account for almost the entire remaining population of the capital, began testing their residents yesterday.

At the moment China is applying not-so-drastic measures in the capital, where residential areas with registered positive cases have been closed, companies have been urged to allow teleworking and group tourism has been suspended before May 1, although authorities have asked residents not to leave the city for this holiday unless absolutely necessary. If these measures fail to stop the rise in infections, it is quite likely that the 21 million inhabitants of Beijing will have to undergo a new bolt.


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