Beijing rolls out mass Covid testing amid ‘fast and furious’ Omicron outbreak

China’s capital began testing all residents of Chaoyang, a bustling district home to malls and foreign embassies, on Monday morning, in the first of three rounds of testing. Inspections will be carried out over a period of 5 days. Residents and office workers line up at makeshift testing centers throughout the day.

As of 8 p.m., nearly 3.7 million tests had been performed, with more than half a million tests showing negative results, city officials said at a late-night news conference.

Officials also announced that mass testing would be extended on Tuesday to all but five of the capital’s suburban districts, including about 19.5 million of the city’s 21.5 million residents.

The announcement came after 29 cases were detected in the 24 hours to 4 p.m. Monday, although officials said all new cases were detected in areas that have come under disease control.

Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing city government, said at the press conference: “The epidemic outbreak in Beijing is coming fast and furiously,” Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing city government, said at a press conference. , said at the press conference, adding that Beijing’s epidemic prevention and control efforts had “reached a critical moment”.

People queue for Covid tests at a makeshift test site in Beijing's Chaoyang district on Monday.

As of Friday, Beijing has reported a total of 80 cases. Although the caseload count is still relatively low, the authorities do not stand any chance, especially after witnessing the rapid outbreak of the Omicron epidemic in Shanghai that has made up tens of thousands of people. new case.

Dozens of residential areas across eight counties have been placed under strict lockdown, with residents barred from leaving their homes or community premises.

Officials have urged residents not to leave the city unless absolutely necessary, including during the upcoming five-day holiday. The Labor Day holiday, which began on Saturday this year, is traditionally a time for mass travel in China. But it is likely to be much calmer this year.

Beijing is also suspending cultural performances, sporting events, exhibitions and other activities related to mass gatherings, as well as all tutoring classes and training sessions.

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The announcement of mass testing in Chaoyang late on Sunday sparked an overnight buying panic. Long lines formed at supermarkets, where customers cleared shelves of fresh produce, while online delivery apps sold out of some food items.

Some supermarkets and shops have extended their opening hours to cope with the influx of customers. By the next morning, more people had been replenished.

Beijing officials and state media have repeatedly tried to reassure people. “Don’t worry! Daily necessities are fully supplied and prices are stable,” shouted Monday. first page of the Beijing Evening News, a state-owned tabloid, carried the headline along with a large photo of supermarket shelves filled with potatoes, onions and other vegetables.

But many residents are still worried. Widespread food shortages caused by Shanghai’s weeks-long shutdown caused an uproar online this month.

On Tuesday, Shanghai reported 16,980 infections, including 52 Covid-related deaths, according to the National Health Commission.

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