BEIJING – The Chinese capital tightened restrictions on social distance, closed schools and severely restricted travel on Wednesday as it hurriedly tries to curb a new flare-up of coronavirus cases.
The new outbreak, which started a week ago and has been linked to the Xinfadi wholesale market, which supplies Beijing with 80 percent of its food, has alarmed the authorities in Beijing and feared that the virus has already spread to at least four other provinces China.
The virus prevention and control situation in Beijing was described on Tuesday by the city’s top official, Party Secretary Cai Qi, as “extremely serious” To meet of the Beijing Communist Party Standing Committee.
“This really sounded an alarm bell for us,” said Cai to the participants.
On Tuesday, four provinces, including Zhejiang, Liaoning, Hebei and Sichuan, reported new cases related to the rise in Beijing, according to state online media. Caixin. Officials also said they would impose quarantine measures on Beijing visitors to limit the spread of the infection.
The Beijing city government reported another 31 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, a total of 137 since the flare began last Thursday – the worst recurrence of the disease in the capital since February.
Beijing has entered “war” mode at the district level, officials said this week. The neighborhoods set up 24-hour security controls, and all schools and kindergartens closed their doors and rescheduled classes online, fearing that they would not be reopening in the fall.
The Beijing city government announced late Tuesday that it would increase the city’s emergency rate from three to two – the second-highest level in a four-tier system – meaning that residents were advised not to leave the capital unless necessary.
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People who live or work in so-called high-risk streets and areas near the Xinfadi market were not allowed to leave Beijing at all, said Chen Bei, deputy general secretary of the Beijing city government.
Other residents were advised not to leave unless it was necessary and to undergo tests.
The authorities have tried to mobilize mass tests. Tens of thousands of people have already wiped off at locations in sports stadiums and transit facilities.
According to Zhang Qiang, deputy head of the city’s inspection and quarantine group, around 356,000 people have been tested in Beijing since Sunday.
According to the aeronautical data tracker Variflight, which canceled around 700 flights from Beijing Capital International Airport and 395 flights from Beijing Daxing Airport on Wednesday, more than 1,000 domestic flights were canceled.
The Chinese Civil Aviation Authority has not yet released an official public announcement about a change in flight regulations.
Together with Shanghai, the authorities in the Chinese territory of Macau, the world’s largest casino hub, announced that people arriving from Beijing would have to receive a 14-day quarantine. The capital could also be one “No-Go Zone” for vacationers and business people from the rest of the country, According to reports by the state newspaper Global Times.
After months of blocking measures, Beijing had started to loosen restrictions, and life was slowly returning to normal, and attractions and shops were reopening.
During the major annual Chinese political assembly in May, which was postponed at the height of the coronavirus outbreak, success in managing the pandemic was an important feature of the country’s ruling Communist Party. China has carried out mass tests and extensive closures, particularly in Wuhan City, where the outbreak started, and believed it had slowed the spread of fatal respiratory disease.
Officials say they firmly believe Beijing will not become a “second Wuhan”.
Reuters contributed to this report.