BEIJING REIMPOSES STRICT LOCKDOWN MEASURES
Lockdown imposed in Chinese capital
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.
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.