Home World Covid: 22mn to get tested in Beijing amid lockdown fears, another 52 die in Shanghai

Covid: 22mn to get tested in Beijing amid lockdown fears, another 52 die in Shanghai

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BEIJING: China’s capital Beijing on Tuesday started testing most of its nearly 22 million residents for Covid-19, swiftly expanding mass tests from one district, Chaoyang, to many more areas within 24 hours amid a spreading outbreak and fears of a Shanghai-style lockdown.

The Beijing government announced the decision to expand tests across the city late on Monday night as the 3.5 million residents of Chaoyang district completed their first round yesterday.

Residents will be tested three times on alternate days to detect and isolate positive cases, which, according to the city government, have been spreading undetected for over a week.

As of 8 pm on Monday, a total of more than 3.69 million people in Chaoyang district had been sampled, with 526,457 testing negative.

The city reported 33 new locally transmitted cases for April 25, the city’s health authority said on Tuesday, of which 32 were symptomatic and one was asymptomatic.

That was higher than 19 community infections reported for April 24.

By official count, the total number of infections reported in Beijing since April 22 stands at 103.

The caseload is low but that didn’t stop residents from panic-buying essentials on Sunday and Monday with many fearing that a lockdown in Beijing is imminent.

Unable to cater to the sudden surge in demand, many shops and supermarkets ran out of food and fresh vegetables by Sunday night and Monday noon.

New supplies arrived later on Monday.

The city government has said supplies have stabilised.

The nearly city-wide nucleic acid testing, which started on Tuesday morning, however, could trigger another rush by residents to stock-up on essentials.

New tests will cover people in the districts of Xicheng, Dongcheng, Haidian, Fengtai, Shijingshan, Fangshan, Tongzhou, Shunyi, Changping, Daxing and Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area, Xu Hejian, spokesperson of the municipal government of Beijing, announced at 10pm on Monday.

“To resolutely curb the risk of the spread of the epidemic and effectively maintain the health of the citizens, it was decided to further expand the scope of regional screening on the basis of the tests done in Chaoyang district,” Xu said.

“Beijing has suspended events with large gatherings, such as theatrical performances, sports events as well as commodities exhibitions and sales promotions, and halted offline courses and activities of after-school training institutions, as well as home renovation and construction projects,” Xu said.

Chinese financial hub Shanghai, meanwhile, continues to battle the worst Covid-19 outbreak since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late, 2019.

The city reported 52 new deaths among its Covid-19 patients on April 25, up from 51 the day before, the city government said on Tuesday.

The youngest among the deceased was 33 years old while the oldest 100. According to an official statement, all 52 had underlying health conditions.

The city also recorded 15,319 new local asymptomatic coronavirus cases, down from 16,983 a day earlier. The number of confirmed symptomatic infections stood at 1,661, down from 2,472 the previous day.

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