Is Covid about to ‘explode’ in China? Bar, salon become source of outbreak in Beijing, Shanghai

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Image Source : AP

A woman gets a throat swab at a coronavirus testing site in Beijing

Highlights

  • China warned of an ‘explosive’ Covid-19 outbreak, after Beijing and Shanghai reported many cases
  • China’s Covid-19 infection rate is low by global numbers, but the country maintains a zero-Covid policy
  • Beijing only relaxed curbs less than 2 weeks ago that had been imposed to fight a major outbreak

China warned of an ‘explosive’ Covid-19 outbreak in the country, after both capital Beijing and financial hub Shanghai had reported a cluster of cases tied to a bar and a hair salon.

A Chinese government official had said that 61 cases were uncovered in Beijing on Friday, and all the patients were linked to ‘Heaven Supermarket Bar’ – they had either visited the bar themselves or had met with someone who had visited the bar.

Xu Hejian, spokesperson of the Beijing municipal government was quoted by the news agency Reuters as saying, “The recent outbreak … is strongly explosive in nature and widespread in scope.”

Just a day ahead of the outbreak, Beijing had witnessed a new tightening of Covid curbs on Thursday. At least two districts closed some entertainment venues after a flare-up in a neighborhood full of nightlife, shopping and embassies.

On Friday, the city did not announce new curbs at the briefing, but later the Beijing sports administration said all off-campus and “offline” sports activities for teens would be canceled from Sunday.

So far, 115 cases and 6,158 close contacts linked to the bar have been reported, throwing the city of 22 million back into a state of anxiety.

China’s covid numbers – low by global standards but high for the country

China’s Covid-19 infection rate is low by global numbers, but the country maintains a zero-Covid policy, to “protect the elderly and the medical system”

So far, the country of 1.4 billion has seen just 5,226 deaths from Covid-19.

Lockdown lifted just two weeks ago

Beijing only relaxed curbs less than two weeks ago that had been imposed to fight a major outbreak that began in April.

The sprawling Universal Beijing Resort – a theme park on the city’s outskirts – on Friday rescinded a plan to reopen. City authorities said three of its workers had visited the Heaven Supermarket bar.

Many neighborhoods in the capital have been put under lockdown, with residents told to stay home.

Shanghai begins mass testing

Shanghai residents, who had just come out of a stringent Covid lockdown on the beginning of this month, are going back to stringent Covid curbs. Authorities have ordered PCR testing for all residents in 15 of Shanghai’s 16 districts this weekend, and five districts barred residents from leaving home during the testing period. A city official said residents should complete at least one PCR test a week until July 31.

The commercial hub of the country had announced three new confirmed local cases and one asymptomatic case detected outside quarantined areas on Saturday.

Authorities said they had reprimanded several district-level officials for lapses at a hotel that was used to quarantine arrivals from overseas. They had also dismissed executives at a state-owned firm that owned the Red Rose beauty salon, where three cases were found among workers this week.

On Saturday, Shanghai reported seven new local symptomatic cases for the previous day, a rise of one, of which six were detected outside of quarantined areas.

In total, mainland China reported 210 new coronavirus cases for June 10, of which 79 were symptomatic and 131 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said.

(inputs from Reuters)

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