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Covid in China: Mass tests continue in Beijing, 48 die in Shanghai but cases drop

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BEIJING: Beijing continued testing for Covid-19 among its residents, anxious about an impending lockdown, with an expected 3.5 million in the city’s largest district, Chaoyang, lining up for their second round of tests under a gloomy sky and light rain on Wednesday.

The vast majority of Beijing’s around 22 million residents will be tested three times by Saturday as city authorities go all out to avoid battling a situation similar to Shanghai, which despite a weeks-long and despairing lockdown, has logged 500,000 Covid-19 cases and over 200 deaths including 48 for April 26.

Mass tests are ongoing at 12 of the city’s 16 districts.

Beijing has reported over 130 Covid-19 cases since Friday with dozens being reported for Tuesday.

The caseload is low but given Shanghai’s ongoing toil to control the outbreak and stories of hardship faced by many of its residents – that have circulated online despite censorship – means Beijing residents are preparing for the worst-case scenario of a lockdown.

The latest outbreak in Beijing included cluster infections related to a dining group, a school, some interior decoration workers and a tour group, a state media report said.

Nearly 20 million swabs have been taken for testing in Beijing, city officials have said.

Based on the results, 12 tubes of mixed samples tested positive, a Beijing health official said; multiple samples are tested together in a single tube under mass testing campaigns in China.

“In Chaoyang district, three tubes, each holding five samples acquired in locked down areas, were found positive, while in Tongzhou district, one tube containing three samples tested positive and two tubes holding 10 samples were also positive, the official told a news conference,” Reuters said in a report on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Beijing government added eight Covid-19 risk zones.

The local government has closed multiple cultural venues, including the renowned Yonghe Temple, popularly known as the Lama Temple, and the National Centre for the Performing Arts, to prevent large public gatherings

Overall, the Chinese mainland on Wednesday reported 1,818 locally transmitted confirmed Covid-19 cases for the day before, of which 1,606 were in Shanghai.

Apart from Shanghai, 16 other provincial-level regions on the mainland saw new local Covid-19 cases, including 56 in Jiangxi, 51 in Jilin, and 31 in Beijing.

“Tuesday saw 48 deaths from Covid-19, all in Shanghai, bringing the mainland’s total Covid-19 deaths to 4,876,” official news agency Xinhua reported, quoting the national health commission (NHC).

Despite the deaths, a Shanghai official indicated on Wednesday that lockdown measures could be eased in some areas of the city with infections dropping to the lowest in three weeks.


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