COVID-19 rebounds in Beijing: the epidemic is under control

Thousands of residents were lining up on Thursday in Beijing for a screening for the new coronavirus, the Chinese capital trying to stem a rebound in COVID-19 but which is now “under control”, authorities said.

The Chinese Ministry of Health has reported an additional 21 patients in the past 24 hours in the city of 21 million, bringing the total number of cases since last week to 158.

Life had resumed an almost normal course in Beijing after two months without any contamination. But the appearance a few days ago of a new focus of infection has boosted alertness.

The epidemic in the capital, however, is “under control,” said chief epidemiologist of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Wu Zunyou.

“That doesn’t mean there won’t be new cases tomorrow. But (…) they will be fewer and fewer, “he said.

Xinfadi’s wholesale market, the capital’s main source of fruit and vegetables, is believed to be the source of the new contamination.

To avoid any shortage, the Hebei province located around the capital sent 3000 tonnes of vegetables, assured Thursday to the press the spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, Gao Feng.

Ten thousand tonnes of pork, the most consumed meat in the country, have also been taken out of national reserves, he said.

The local authorities have been engaged for a few days in a vast campaign to screen residents and disinfect restaurants.

In data | Our interactive content on COVID-19

“Afraid to go out”

Some 30 residential areas, out of the thousands in Beijing, have also been quarantined and all schools have been closed until further notice.

Dozens of people were waiting for a test on Thursday outside the Workers’ Stadium in the east of the city, a compound that usually hosts the local soccer team, AFP said on Thursday.

Many were employees of nearby restaurants or stores.

“I wanted to be screened anyway and then my employer told me that all the staff at the mall where we work should also be tested,” said Pang, a 25-year-old saleswoman.

“We haven’t had many customers in recent days, people are afraid to go out,” said Mr. Wang, head chef in a restaurant, while standing in line.

Several bars and restaurants in the bustling Sanlitun district have been ordered to close and their employees have been asked to be screened, AFP learned.

The municipality called on residents to avoid “non-essential” travel outside of Beijing and drastically cut air links.

People living in areas classified as “medium or high risk” are prohibited from leaving the city.

It is a question of “resolutely blocking the channels of transmission of the epidemic, not a blocking” of the capital, wanted to reassure Thursday a municipal official, Pan Xuhong.

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