BEI­JING REIM­POSES STRICT LOCK­DOWN MEA­SURES

Lock­down im­posed in Chi­nese cap­i­tal

Calgary Herald - - NP - SOPHIA YAN

Bei­jing or­dered the clo­sure of all schools Tues­day as the au­thor­i­ties tried to con­tain a “se­vere” out­break of coro­n­avirus.

At least 106 peo­ple have been in­fected in the cap­i­tal since last Thurs­day, with the ori­gin of the cases traced to a whole­sale food mar­ket.

All res­i­dents in neigh­bour­hoods deemed high risk have been re­stricted to their hous­ing com­pounds, and those in medium-risk ar­eas are banned from leav­ing the Chi­nese cap­i­tal. Any­body seek­ing to leave the city must show neg­a­tive test re­sults for the past week.

Bei­jing’s ed­u­ca­tion com­mis­sion last night said that schools would re­turn to on­line teach­ing from Tues­day and put off the re­turn of univer­sity stu­dents.

Cases linked to the out­break in Bei­jing have al­ready been dis­cov­ered in nearby prov­inces, with of­fi­cials work­ing to trace and iso­late all con­tacts be­fore the virus spreads fur­ther. Other cities in­clud­ing Shang­hai now re­quire 14-day quar­an­tines for any trav­ellers from the cap­i­tal.

At least three of­fi­cials in charge of the Bei­jing neigh­bour­hood where the out­break emerged have been fired, ac­cord­ing to state me­dia.

Chi­nese sci­en­tists have said a pre­lim­i­nary as­sess­ment in­di­cated the virus was brought into the coun­try af­ter traces were found on a chop­ping board used by a Xin­fadi mar­ket ven­dor of imported salmon.

But the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion has said the claim was not the “pri­mary hy­poth­e­sis” and fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion was nec­es­sary.

“The epi­demic sit­u­a­tion in the cap­i­tal is ex­tremely se­vere,” said Xu He­jian, a city gov­ern­ment spokesman.

“Bei­jing will take the most res­o­lute, de­ci­sive and strict mea­sures to con­tain the out­break.”

Thou­sands of peo­ple in the cap­i­tal are be­ing tested, in­clud­ing those who vis­ited the Xin­fadi mar­ket which sup­plies 70 per cent of gro­ceries sold in the city. At least two sports sta­di­ums have been con­verted for med­i­cal work­ers to swab peo­ple deemed to be at risk, based on their travel and con­tact his­tory.

Bei­jing is us­ing a “knock, knock” method of con­tact trac­ing — which in­volves mak­ing both house and phone calls — and a self-re­port­ing mech­a­nism by public ser­vice an­nounce­ments re­mind­ing peo­ple to seek as­sis­tance if they have been near the mar­ket.

Sub­way sta­tions in high­risk ar­eas must dis­in­fect public spa­ces, in­clud­ing seats and handrails, ev­ery hour. Sta­tions in lower-risk neigh­bour­hoods have to dis­in­fect ev­ery four hours. Buses are en­forc­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing with no more than six pas­sen­gers per square me­tre.

There is mass dis­in­fec­tion of res­tau­rants and mar­kets in the city of 20 mil­lion, with 11 mar­kets closed.

LIN­TAO ZHANG / GETTY IM­AGES

A nurse tests for COVID-19 from a per­son who ei­ther vis­ited or lives near the Xin­fadi mar­ket at a test­ing fa­cil­ity in Bei­jing, China, on Tues­day. At least 106 peo­ple have been in­fected in the Chi­nese cap­i­tal since last Thurs­day.

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