Coronavirus: China locks down swathes of Beijing and cancels hundreds of flights as Covid-19 spike continues

‘The risk of the outbreak spreading is huge,’ health official says

Zoe Tidman
Wednesday 17 June 2020 18:11
Coronavirus in numbers

Beijing has barred some residents from leaving the city and closed down some schools as China’s capital looks to get a hold on a new coronavirus outbreak.

Scores of flights from the city have been cancelled and certain neighbourhoods blocked off as authorities stepped up efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19 on Wednesday.

The new measures come as Beijing suffers its most serious coronavirus flare-up in months.

The city had essentially eradicated local transmission before the fresh outbreak, which has been primarily linked to a wholesale food market.

Health officials said on Tuesday that 31 more people had tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of new infections since last Thursday to 137 – the city’s worst surge since February.

“The risk of the outbreak spreading is huge and controlling it is difficult,” said Pang Xinghuo, a senior disease control official. “[We] can’t rule out the possibility the number of cases will persist for a period of time.”

More neighbourhoods were designated as medium-risk on Wednesday, with entrants undergoing temperature checks and registration.

People from the 32 medium-risk areas – up from 22 earlier this week – have been banned from leaving Beijing, including residents of the district near the wholesale food centre.

Residents in other neighbourhoods need to show proof of having tested negative if they want to travel out of the city.

Nurseries, primary schools and high schools have also shut across the city, as have some bars, restaurants and clubs.

The state-run Global Times newspaper reported 1,255 flights to and from the capital’s two major airports had been cancelled as of Wednesday morning – about two-thirds of those scheduled.

On Tuesday, all outbound taxi and car-hailing services and some long-distance bus routes were cancelled.

Despite the new stricter measures, roads are still open in the capital and companies and factories have not been told to stop work.

Authorities on Tuesday raised Beijing to a level two alert, the second-highest level in a four-tier Covid-19 emergency response level system. That reversed a one step downgrade from level two to level three only 10 days earlier.

Additional reporting by agencies

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