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Covid Outbreak in Beijing Prompts Order for Nearly Citywide Testing


The outbreak in Beijing is another blow to the already stumbling Chinese economy. Waves of selling hit the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets on Monday, driving down by 4.9 percent in a single day the CSI 300 Index of large Chinese companies’ share prices.

While the entire city of Shanghai has been locked down for nearly a month, Beijing is experimenting initially with a more selective approach. A handful of neighborhoods have been locked down, and residents of apartment complexes adjacent to these neighborhoods have been strongly discouraged from leaving their homes.

The largest area where residents are locked down or discouraged from leaving their homes covers about a square mile of southern Chaoyang District, across a wide avenue from the Beijing University of Technology. Shops on the university’s side of the avenue were still open early Monday evening, but apparel stores, convenience stores, eateries and many other businesses on the far side of the avenue were all dark and empty.

A half dozen police squad cars were parked with blue, white and red flashing lights at one corner of the area. Several more squad cars were parked along the road. A couple of ambulances stood ready to whisk away anybody found to be infected. But there was no easily visible sign of the high green security fences being used in Shanghai to cordon off homes and neighborhoods.

Li Haiqing, a 27-year-old resident of a locked-down neighborhood several miles farther east, said he had stocked up on instant food, snacks, water and paper towels on Saturday and so had been ready when he awoke Sunday morning to find that no one was allowed to leave his apartment complex.

“It took me by surprise,” he said. “I wonder why it happened so suddenly — it feels as if it had nothing to do with me,” adding, “Because there are confirmed cases after all, I think safety is the first priority.”

Cases have been spreading in Beijing for a week, with multiple rounds of transmission, Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing, said at a news conference on Sunday.

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