Beijing: Beijing’slargest district, Chaoyang, on Monday kicked off three rounds of Covid-19 test for all its residents amid fear of an impending Shanghai-style lockdown after dozens of infections were reported in the last three days.
The Chaoyang district is home to some 3.5 million people; the central business district, foreign embassies and a cluster of shining skyscrapers are also located in Chaoyang.
Residents and those who work in Chaoyang will have to get themselves tested three times – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – this week, city authorities announced on Sunday.
It triggered frenzied buying of daily necessities with Beijing residents lining up for hours at the nearest supermarket on Sunday night and Monday morning.
Local media reports said several markets suffered a temporary shortage of fresh vegetables and meat products; delivery apps said they had run out of stock of items, like milk, normally available.
Families and friends urged each other on social media to stock-up food and essentials in case a snap lockdown is announced by the middle of the week; rumours were flying that it’s not if but when the district, and then the rest of the city will implement curbs.
Residents lined up in long queues to get tested early on Monday with local volunteers barking orders urging calm and discipline.
Most schools, offices and markets remained open on Monday.
Beijing has reported 47 locally transmitted cases, with Chaoyang accounting for more than half of them since the end of last week.
Cases were reported from at least five other districts.
The Chinese capital’s caseload is tiny compared to the hundreds of thousands of infections reported in Shanghai but Chaoyang district told residents to reduce public activities and suspended in-person private tutoring classes.
Case numbers, however, are likely to go up.
“The virus has sneakily spread in the city for a week and multiple generations of cases were presented,” Tian Wei from the Beijing Municipal government was quoted as saying by state media on Sunday, indicating more Covid-19 transmissions are likely to be discovered.
Yang Beibei, deputy head of Chaoyang District, said that 1,230 close contacts have been identified and 14 areas have been placed under closed-off management in the district.
Yang said that the district has suspended all offline training sessions and group activities at various off-campus training institutions.
Meanwhile, Shanghai reported the highest number of Covid-19 deaths on Monday for Sunday, as it continues to battle the worst outbreak of the disease.
The financial hub reported 51 new deaths among its Covid-19 patients on April 24, up from 39 the day before, the local government said on Monday.
The city also recorded 16,983 new local asymptomatic coronavirus cases, down from 19,657 a day earlier.
The number of confirmed symptomatic infections stood at 2,472, up from 1,401 the previous day, the local government added.