Beijing grapples with another COVID-19 outbreak described as “extremely severe” – more virulent strain than WuhanPosted on June 17, 2020 by The Extinction Protocol
Authorities in Beijing have described the city’s coronavirus outbreak as “extremely severe” as dozens more cases emerged, travel from the city was curtailed and its schools and universities shut down. Beijing residents were told to avoid “non-essential” travel out of the capital, and anyone entering or leaving will be tested for COVID-19. Additional neighborhoods were fenced off on Tuesday, with 27 now designated medium risk, which means authorities can impose stricter restrictions on the movement of people and cars and can carry out temperature checks. One has been designated high risk.
“The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe,” Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian warned at a press conference. “Right now, we have to take strict measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.” Entry restrictions have also been brought back in many residential compounds. Health authorities said sealed-off residences and people in quarantine would have food and medicine delivered to them. Schools, which had recently re-opened, have been ordered to resume online classes, and universities required to suspend the return of their students.
Companies were told to encourage working from home, indoor sports and entertain venues have been shut, and libraries, museums, art galleries and parks must now limit capacity. Authorities also reported four new domestic infections in neighboring Hebei province, while a case reported in Sichuan province was linked to the Beijing cluster. Some other cities across China warned they would quarantine arrivals from the capital.
The outbreak is the most significant in China since February, prompting fears of a second wave and questions over how the virus was able to spread given severe quarantine measures taken by authorities. The outbreak is potentially embarrassing for Beijing, which had declared victory over the virus and ordered citizens back to work. The capital, where measures were among the strictest in the country, had reported no new locally transmitted cases for 56 consecutive days before a cluster of diagnoses began on Thursday. Before that most new cases had come from Chinese nationals returning from abroad.
On Tuesday, state media appeared to push the idea that the virus had come from abroad. Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said the strain was most similar to those seen in Europe, the US or Russia. “It clearly indicates the virus strain is different from what it was two months ago,” he told state broadcaster CGTN. “The virus strain is the major epidemic strain in European countries. So, it is from outside China brought to Beijing.” In a similar vein, a deputy director at the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, told state media he believed the new outbreak involved a more contagious strain of the virus than the one that hit Wuhan at the beginning of the pandemic. –Guardian
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