Beijing closes 10% of subway stations to stem the spread of COVID

Beijing closes 10% of subway stations to stem the spread of COVID

BEIJING (AP) – Beijing on Wednesday closed about 10% of stations on its vast subway system as an additional measure against the spread of the coronavirus.

The metro authority in a short message only said that the measure to close 40 stations mostly in the center was taken as part of the outbreak control measures. No date has been given for the resumption of service.

Beijing is on high alert for the spread of COVID-19, with restaurants and bars limited to takeaway only, closed gyms and classes suspended indefinitely. Major tourist sites in the city, including the Forbidden City and Beijing Zoo, have closed their indoor exhibition halls and are operating only at partial capacity.

Some communities where cases have been discovered have been isolated. People residing in “controlled” areas were told to stay within city limits, including 12 areas deemed high-risk and another 35 deemed medium-risk.

City residents are required to undergo three tests during the week as authorities try to detect and isolate cases without imposing the type of radical blockade seen in Shanghai. and elsewhere. A negative test result obtained within the previous 48 hours is required to access most public spaces.

Beijing recorded just 51 new cases on Wednesday, five of which were asymptomatic.

Metro closures are expected to have relatively little impact on city life, with China observing Labor Day this week and many commuters in the city of 21 million already working from home.

In a downtown neighborhood classified as high-risk on Wednesday, the streets were virtually deserted save for a few delivery drivers on scooters and the occasional pedestrian and car.

All businesses have been closed with the exception of supermarkets and fruit and vegetable shops. Outsiders generally avoid high-risk areas to avoid the possibility of their presence being logged on tracking apps installed on virtually all cell phones, creating potential problems for future access to public areas.

While taking a lighter touch in Beijing, China on the whole has adhered to its strict “zero-COVID” approach that restricts travel, tests entire cities, and establishes sprawling facilities to try and isolate every infected person. Blockages start with buildings and neighborhoods, but become city-wide if the virus spreads widely.

This has caused the greatest inconvenience in Shanghai, where authorities are slowly easing restrictions that have confined most of the city’s 26 million people to their apartments, housing estates or immediate neighborhoods for nearly a month, and in some cases even. longer.

Shanghai reported a further 4,982 cases on Wednesday, all but 260 asymptomatic, along with 16 other deaths. This continues a steady decline in China’s largest city which recorded a daily spike of 27,605 new cases nearly three weeks ago on April 13.

The surprisingly low death toll Amid an outbreak of more than 400,000 cases in the city that is home to China’s main stock market and largest port in China, it has raised questions about how those deaths are counted.

The strict and widely mocked restrictions have led to food shortages and medical care coupled with a wider, if likely temporary, impact on the national economy. Desperate and outraged citizens confronted authorities on barricades and online, screamed from their windows and slammed pots and pans in their frustration and anger.

Communist authorities who do not tolerate any dissent have tried to erase such protests from the Internet and have blamed the protests, including the hitting of kitchen utensils, on agitation by unidentified “anti-Chinese foreign forces”.

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