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Beijing Locks Down Residential Complexes And Moves Classes Online As Covid Cases Rise

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Topline

Authorities in Beijing ordered the switch to online classes for several schools in the city and locked down a number of residential compounds and offices amid concerns the Chinese capital could head toward Shanghai-style prolonged lockdows as the number of new Covid-19 infections in the city continued to inch upwards.

Key Facts

According to China’s National Health Commission, Beijing reported 50 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, up from 34 a day earlier.

On Thursday, city authorities switched most students in Chaoyang—Beijing’s most populous district with 3.45 million residents—to online learning, allowing some exceptions for middle and high school students who were preparing for important exams, while three other school districts in the city have also moved classes online..

More than 30% of the nearly 160 cases detected in Beijing since last week have been linked to clusters in six schools and two kindergartens in Chaoyang, according to the Associated Press.

According to Reuters, Beijing has also locked down several residential compounds in the city where cases have been detected, along with office blocks and one university.

The curbs come at a time when the city is conducting three rounds of mass testing on its population of around 21.5 million residents.

The city of Shanghai, which has been under stringent pandemic restrictions for over a month, reported 13,562 new cases and 47 deaths on Thursday.

Big Number

164. That’s the total number of cases Beijing has reported since Saturday. While the size of the outbreak remains relatively small, there are concerns that the situation may quickly spiral out of control like it did in Shanghai. The Chinese financial hub reported fewer than 100 infections a day in early March, but that number had surged to above 700 a day by March 20 and more than 27,000 by mid-April.

Key Background

Beijing began the first of three rounds of mass testing for its residents earlier this week after officials warned the virus had been spreading undetected in the city. City officials have scrambled to carry out mass testing early during the outbreak to ensure the city does not face the same fate as Shanghai. The country’s current outbreak has been fueled by the highly infectious BA.2 Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Despite this, officials in China have vowed to stick to their “zero-Covid” strategy, despite the approach causing economic pain and public anger in Shanghai.

Tangent

On Wednesday, officials in Shanghai outlined their plan to tackle the city’s ongoing outbreak, saying they are seeking to achieve “societal zero Covid” where new cases are only detected among people who are already under quarantine or their close contacts. They believe this will help reduce the risk of undetected clusters across the city and allow officials to end the lockdown in areas with zero spread.

Further Reading

Beijing Expands Covid Mass Testing To Nearly 20 Million Residents As It Races To Avoid Shanghai-Style Lockdown (Forbes)

More Beijing classes go online in tightening of virus rules (Associated Press)



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