COVID-19: Beijing tightens restrictions related to COVID-19

An online video of a Chinese orchestra playing “Do You Hear the People Sing?” went viral with nearly 19,000 shares before being blocked

  • Reuters, BEIJING and SHANGHAI

China’s capital Beijing yesterday tightened COVID-19 restrictions as it battles an outbreak, while Shanghai let some of its 25 million residents venture out into the light and air after reporting a second day of zero infections outside quarantine areas.

Shanghai’s outbreak, which began in March, is China’s worst since the first months of the pandemic in 2020. The outbreak in China’s most populous city and the risk of spread in Beijing are testing the ” zero COVID” from the government.

Beijing, with dozens of daily infections in a 10th day outbreak, has not locked down. More than 300 locally transmitted cases have been recorded since April 22.

Photo: AFP

However, Beijing yesterday tightened social distancing rules and launched a new round of mass testing in its most populous and hardest-hit district.

Over the past week, the city of 22 million has carried out mass testing in most of its 16 districts, suspended all entertainment venues and banned restaurants.

“The impact of all this on us is too great – 20,000 yuan [US$3,026] gone in a day, just like that,” said Jia, manager of a normally popular hamburger restaurant in eastern Beijing.

Photo: AP

“Our boss is also stressed about it,” Jia said, asking to be identified only by his last name. “We have three branches in Shanghai. They were all closed and lost money for a month – and now this.

Beijing’s sprawling Universal Studios theme park closed yesterday, while in the heavily visited Badaling section of the Great Wall visitors were asked to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result before entering walk in.

Chaoyang District, which accounts for the largest share of infections in Beijing’s outbreak, has launched an additional round of mass testing, with public health workers knocking on doors to remind residents to get tested.

Shanghai’s citywide lockdown since early last month has upended the daily lives of its residents. The extreme measures taken to seal off residential compounds, including the fencing off of building entrances, have sparked outrage.

The song Can you hear the people singing? from the musical Les Miserables has become a popular protest anthem. On Saturday, an online video of a Chinese orchestra playing the song, with the musicians performing from their respective homes, went viral with nearly 19,000 shares before being blocked.

While much of the city remains in lockdown, Shanghai officials confidently said yesterday restrictions in some areas would be eased after the city brought COVID-19 transmission risks under control at community, excluding cases in quarantine centres.

Six of its 16 districts have achieved “zero COVID” status, meaning three straight days with no new daily rise in infections, a senior city official said at a virtual news conference.

Public transport is to resume in five neighborhoods, but residents should stay in their neighborhoods when going to supermarkets, pharmacies and hospitals, a health official added.

Social media posts showed the streets of Fengxian, one of the six districts, filled with pedestrians and choked with scooters and bicycles, although Reuters could not independently verify the videos.

However, despite the drop in transmissions, Shanghai is due to launch a new round of citywide polymerase chain reaction and antigen testing this week.

Excluding imported cases, China reported 8,256 new local cases on Saturday, down from 10,703 the day before. Beijing accounted for 59 of the infections, while Shanghai recorded 7,872 new cases and all of the country’s 38 deaths.



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