Coronavirus in China: Beijing tests 3.56 lakh residents, suspends 1,255 flights as COVID-19 cases spike

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Published: June 17, 2020 10:40 PM

The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports issued an urgent notice on Wednesday, suspending sports events as well as closing certain gyms as the capital city upgraded its emergency response to COVID-19 from level III to II.

china, coronavirus, covid-19, beijing, wuhan, hubei, xi jinping, Zhejiang, hebei, China's National Health CommissionA file photo of people lining up for medical workers to take swabs for the coronavirus test at a factory in Wuhan, China ( Courtesy: AP photo)

Beijing moved on a war footing on Wednesday, cancelling hundreds of domestic flights, testing 3.56 lakh residents, suspending sports events and closing certain gyms as China’s capital city reported 31 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the tally to 137.

Two airports in Beijing have cancelled 1,255 domestic flights, nearly 70 per cent of the scheduled trips, the official media reported. Beijing currently does not operate international flights.

The national railway operator will allow passengers, who had booked train tickets in and out of Beijing as of Tuesday, to refund tickets without any extra charges.

An epidemic-control official in Beijing said on Wednesday that the capital has tested about 3.56 lakh residents since Saturday, after more than 100 locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases were spotted in the city.

Zhang Qiang, a member of the city’s epidemic-control office who oversees nucleic acid testing efforts, said those tested include workers at the sprawling Xinfadi food wholesale market in southern Beijing, where an employee was confirmed infected on Sunday, as well as residents living in nearby residential communities and people who had travelled near the region.

Currently, the city is testing an average of 400,000 people a day, and plans to step up testing capacity, Zhang said at a news conference here.

The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports issued an urgent notice on Wednesday, suspending sports events as well as closing certain gyms as the capital city upgraded its emergency response to COVID-19 from level III to II.

Starting Wednesday, Beijing halts return to campus, and resumes online courses for middle and primary school students, as well as suspends college students’ return to campus, the reports said.

Beijing has asked libraries, museums, parks to limit visitors up to 30 per cent of full flow and halted cross-province group tours, the reports said.

The flight and train cancellations came after Beijing became a “no-go-zone” on Tuesday as many provincial cities raised alerts on travel to the Chinese capital.

The city is also testing 90,000 people who had visited Xinfadi wholesale market in the last six days and a senior city official warned that the situation is “extremely severe”.

After Beijing’s COVID-19 infections increased, it seems that the capital has now become a “no-go zone” for other parts of China, as many places have raised alert on travels to Beijing and strengthened health check on arrivals from Beijing, state-run Global Times reported.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said on Wednesday that 55 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported on the Chinese mainland on Tuesday, of which 11 were asymptomatic cases.

Of the domestically transmitted cases, 31 cases were reported in Beijing, one in Hebei province, and one in Zhejiang province, the NHC said in its daily report said. Beijing on Monday reported 106 cases.

Also on Tuesday, 11 new asymptomatic cases, including four from overseas, were reported on the mainland. Six cases were re-categorised as confirmed cases. The NHC said 106 asymptomatic cases, including 62 from overseas, were still under medical observation.

No deaths related to the disease were reported on Tuesday, according to the commission.

As of Tuesday, the overall confirmed cases in China had reached 83,265, including 252 patients who were still being treated, with seven in severe condition.

Altogether, 78,379 people have been discharged after recovery and 4,634 people had died of the disease, the NHC said.

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