China steps up anti-Covid measures in Beijing

Chinese people usually take advantage of the long weekend on Labor Day to travel around the country. This year, the worst outbreak of Covid-19 cases since the start of 2020 is forcing many to stay at home, while authorities in the Chinese capital announced on Saturday April 30 that new compulsory tests would be put in place in Beijing, in order to to strengthen measures to combat the coronavirus.

Faced with the highly contagious Omicron variant, the Chinese authorities have reinforced their zero Covid policy, carrying out massive screenings and confinements as soon as the first cases appear. These strict measures have led to a slowdown in the country’s economy and growing frustration among the people.

Beijing announced on Saturday that, after the five public holidays, access to public spaces will be further limited. From May 5, a negative Covid test carried out within the past week will be mandatory to enter “many public places and to take public transport”, according to an announcement made on the capital’s WeChat account. For activities such as sporting events and group travel, participants will also need to present a negative Covid test taken within the last 48 hours, along with proof that they have been fully vaccinated.

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More than 10,700 new cases

China has recorded more than 10,700 new positive cases across the country, almost all of them in Shanghai, the economic capital. The number of new cases is however decreasing in this metropolis in the east of the country whose 25 million inhabitants have been undergoing harsh confinement since the beginning of April. Some have difficulty accessing food and many fear, if they test positive, to be sent to collective quarantine centers, with very variable comfort.

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Shanghai authorities said on Saturday that the new cases were all recorded in people under quarantine or restrictions, suggesting the number of infections is slowing. They pointed out that hundreds of companies listed on a “white list” have returned to work and a thousand more have been cleared to return to work, according to state media.

In Beijing, the number of new cases rose to fifty-four on Saturday, according to the National Health Commission. Covid tests will be free for residents from Tuesday, state media said.

The World with AFP

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