Authorities in the Chinese capital Beijing sealed up a large shopping mall and placed several apartment buildings under full lockdown due to a new outbreak of COVID-19, it was reported Thursday.
The decision was taken while Beijing's Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party was hosting a plenary session attended by hundreds of members.
China has largely put under control the epidemic in its territory as early as the spring of 2020, thanks to mandatory quarantines, strict restrictive measures, the isolation of contacts, the drastic controls on international arrivals, or even the monitoring of movements.
Six new cases were identified in Chaoyang and Haidian. They were all close contacts of recently infected people in the northeastern province of Jilin.
The Raffles City shopping center in Dongcheng, a central area of the capital, with offices and houses, was closed Wednesday evening after authorities concluded close contacts of an infected person had been at the premises, according to press reports. All exits were closed and all staff and customers were subjected to nucleic acid tests.
The Chinese Communist Party convention ended Thursday with a historic resolution supporting President Xi Jinping ahead of the CCP Congress in 2022, thus forecasting he will be chosen for a historic third term.
Beijing health officials said more than 280 close contacts had been identified, with nearly 12,000 people being screened for the virus in Chaoyang and Haidian districts. This outbreak was unforeseen, with many places covering a vast area, involving many people, putting prevention and control efforts in very difficult conditions, said spokesman Xu Hejian. Today is a crucial day and it is necessary to go back as soon as possible to the source of the epidemic, he added.
Five residential communities, an elementary school and two office complexes were placed under quarantine today, with tens of thousands of residents forced to mass tests. Four of the diagnosed cases were members of the same family, while the other two were residents of Jilin and went to Beijing on business.
While countries are easing down on pandemic measures, China continues to pursue a zero covid target, with the most severe restrictions. The National Sanitary Commission Thursday reported 62 new cases of COVID-19 (compared to 54 on Tuesday), including 47 of domestic transmission (39 the day before) and 15 from abroad.
This recovery from the epidemic was sudden, Beijing spokesman Hu Hetjian explained. Today is a crucial day and it is imperative that we detect the source of the infections as soon as possible, he added.
Five residential complexes, an elementary school and two office buildings were also quarantined, leaving tens of thousands of Beijing residents (out of a population of 22 million) barred from leaving the country and forced to undergo diagnostic tests.
Movie theaters, karaoke parlors and other entertainment venues have closed in recent days out of precautions.