Beijing on Tuesday reported a record number of Covid-19 cases in nearly three years. The Chinese capital of 22 million inhabitants, which had recorded 621 new local cases on Sunday, recorded 1,438 on Tuesday. Nationwide, the total number of daily cases, including imported cases, now exceeds 28,000, with southern Guangdong Province and southwest Chongqing City being the most affected, according to health authorities.
The authorities in Beijing seem to want to avoid strict confinement for the moment like the one applied in Shanghai in the spring, but have however reinforced health measures in recent days. This comes as three elderly residents of Beijing, with pre-existing pathologies, died of Covid-19 over the weekend, the first recorded deaths linked to the virus since May.
Nearly 600 areas of Beijing considered ‘high risk’
Nearly 600 areas of the capital, including residential buildings, are therefore now considered “high risk”, which forces their inhabitants to remain confined to their homes or to be transported to quarantine centers. Schools have switched to online classes, restaurants, gyms, parks and tourist sites have been closed and employees are being asked to work from home.
In the streets, queues in front of Covid-19 test booths are getting longer, with most public places now requiring a negative result within 24 hours to enter.
China is the last major world economy to apply a strict health policy, known as zero Covid, which aims to do everything to prevent contamination and death. It consists of imposing confinements as soon as cases appear, quarantines for people who test positive and almost daily PCR tests for the population. But this strategy, initially effective in stemming the spread of the virus, seems to be running out of steam in the face of new variants and is dealing a severe blow to the economy, isolating China from the rest of the world and causing strong weariness among the Chinese.