Beijing stops travel, extends movement curbs as coronavirus cases surge
Scores of flights to and from Beijing were cancelled, schools shut and at least 27 neighbourhoods blocked off as officials ramped up efforts to contain the spread that has fanned fears of wider contagion.
The new outbreak of COVID-19 infections in Beijing has forced millions of people in the Chinese capital to live under renewed restrictions. Scores of flights to and from the city were cancelled, schools shut and some neighbourhoods blocked off as officials ramped up efforts to contain the spread that has fanned fears of wider contagion.
The city reported another 31 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 137 -- the worst resurgence of the disease in Beijing since early February.
The outbreak is believed to have started in the massive Xinfandi food market that supplies 80% of the city's meat and vegetables.
At least 27 neighbourhoods have been classed as medium risk and one neighbourhood, near the market, is high risk. People in medium or high-risk areas cannot leave the city. People in low-risk areas can leave, but need to test negative first.
More than 1,200 flights have been cancelled to and from the city and railway services have been reduced until at least July 9, the BBC reported. Primary school, middle school, and college classes are suspended, sports teams cannot play, and swimming pools and gyms are closed. Some restaurants, bars and night clubs are also closed.
The resurgence of the disease in the Chinese capital over the past six days has upended daily life for many, with some fearing the entire city is headed for a lockdown as the number of new COVID-19 cases mount.
While the city's roads and highways were still open and companies and factories were not ordered to stop work, authorities stepped up measures to control movement around and to and from the city on Wednesday.
State media reported that rail officials were granting full refunds on all tickets to and from Beijing, an apparent bid to discourage people from travelling even though services have not been officially cancelled.
All outbound taxi and car-hailing services and some long-distance bus routes were cancelled on Tuesday, when officials put the city back on a level two alert, the second-highest level in a four-tier COVID-19 emergency response system. That reversed a downgrade from level two to level three a mere 10 days earlier.
The Beijing outbreak has been traced to the Xinfadi wholesale food centre in the southwest of the city. Xinfadi is much larger than than the Wuhan seafood market, from where the virus spread around the world, infecting more than 8 million people.
Outside of Beijing, Hebei, Liaoning, Sichuan and Zhejiang provinces have reported new cases linked to Xinfadi.
Concerned about contagion, some provinces imposed quarantine requirements on visitors from Beijing, including Heilongjiang, which only recently brought a local outbreak under control.
Authorities in Macau, the world's biggest casino hub, also demanded arrivals from Beijing undergo a 14-day quarantine.
In Beijing, police guarded roadblocks at compounds near Xinfandi while delivery staff on bikes and in vans queued to hand over food and other supplies for residents.
Some residents said they were cancelling travel plans for the three-day Dragonboat Festival long weekend at the end of June.