Shanghai, Beijing Order Tests 07/06 06:48
BEIJING (AP) -- Residents of parts of Shanghai and Beijing have been ordered
to undergo further rounds of COVID-19 testing following the discovery of new
cases in the two cities, while tight restrictions remain in place in Hong Kong,
Macao and other Chinese cities.
Shanghai has only just emerged from a strict lockdown that confined most of
its 24 million residents to their homes for weeks and the new requirements have
stirred concerns of a return of such harsh measures.
The latest outbreak in China's largest city, a key international business
center, has been linked to a karaoke parlor that failed to enforce prevention
measures among employees and customers, including the tracing of others they
came into contact with, according to the city health commission. All such
outlets have been ordered to temporarily suspend business, the city's
department of culture and tourism said.
Shanghai's lockdown prompted unusual protests both in person and online
against the government's harsh enforcement, which left many residents
struggling to access food and medical services and sent thousands to quarantine
Beijing has also seen a recent outbreak linked to a nightlife spot. It has
been conducting regular testing for weeks and at least one residential compound
in the suburb of Shunyi, which is home to many foreign residents, has been
locked down with a steel fence installed over its entrance to prevent residents
Enforcement in China's capital has been far milder than in Shanghai,
although officials continue to require regular testing and prevention measures.
In the northern city of Xi'an, whose 13 million residents endured one of
China's strictest lockdowns over the winter, restaurants have been restricted
to takeout only and public entertainment spots closed for a week starting
A notice on the city government's website said the measures were only
temporary and intended to prevent the chance of a renewed outbreak. It said
supermarkets, offices, public transport and other facilities are continuing to
operate as normal, with routine screening including temperature checks and
people being required to show an app proving they are free of infection.
The gambling hub of Macao has meanwhile locked down the famed Grand Lisboa
Hotel after cases were discovered there. More than a dozen residential and
commercial centers in the Chinese special autonomous region of about 650,000
people have been designated as "red zones," with access restricted almost
exclusively to emergency workers.
Authorities have ordered most establishments to close with the exception of
casinos, which are Macao's main revenue generator and among the city's largest
City residents will have to undergo three citywide COVID-19 tests this week.
The local outbreak is Macao's largest since the pandemic began, with more than
900 infections reported since mid-June.
Neighboring Hong Kong has also seen a rising trend of coronavirus infections
since mid-June. In the past seven days, daily infections reported averaged
about 2,000 a day.
The city's new leader, John Lee, said Wednesday that Hong Kong must not "lie
flat" when it comes to COVID-19, rejecting the "living with the coronavirus"
mentality that most of the world has adopted.
His comments echo the sentiments of Chinese authorities, who have stuck with
their "zero-COVID" policy that has become closely identified with President and
head of the ruling Communist Party Xi Jinping.
However, Lee has said that Hong Kong authorities are exploring options,
including shortening the duration of mandatory quarantine for incoming
travelers. Currently, travelers must test negative for COVID-19 before flying
and quarantine for seven days in designated hotels upon arrival.
The city, once known as a bustling business hub and international financial
center, has seen tourism and business travel crippled by its tough entry
The strict measures have remained in place despite relatively low numbers of
cases and the serious negative effects on China's economy and global supply
The World Health Organization recently called the policy unsustainable, a
view Chinese officials rejected outright even while they say they hope to
minimize the impact.
While China's borders remain largely closed, cutting off both visitors from
abroad and outbound tourism, officials have cautiously increased flights from
some foreign countries, most recently Russia.
Mainland China reported 353 cases of domestic transmission on Wednesday, 241
of them asymptomatic.
Shanghai announced just 24 cases over the past 24 hours, and Beijing five.
Anhui announced 222 cases in what appears to be the latest cluster, prompting
the inland province to order mass testing and travel restrictions in Si county,
where the bulk of cases have been reported.