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Beijing Enforces Level-Two Containment in Earnest

2020/06/18

Beijing is strictly enforcing control measures required by the level-two emergency response, committed to preventing both case importation and domestic transmission. Taking the most resolute, decisive and rigorous steps, Beijing is racing against time to conduct screening, detecting, epidemiological investigation and source tracing, and ensure that all those in need are screened, tested, isolated or hospitalized as required, with the aim of curbing the spread of the disease swiftly.

Beijing is facing a severe and complex challenge posed by a rising risk in COVID-19 infection. Pang Xinghuo, Deputy Director of the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said at a press briefing on 17 June that current results of investigation, testing and screening have shown that the recent infections mainly cluster around the Xinfadi Wholesale Market, with the overwhelming majority of the 137 cases directly or indirectly related to Xinfadi employees or customers and a large chunk of the infected are in the Huaxiang area, where the Market is located. Most of the cases and positive environmental samples are linked to the main trading hall of the Market. The preliminary assessment is that the recent infections have been caused by human-to-human transmission or contaminated objects and environment. So far, most of the new cases (95 percent) are mild and moderate. According to current findings, this round of infection has been detected at its early stage, yet we cannot rule out the possibility of new cases emerging in the coming days.

As the level-two response requires, Beijing residents in high-risk areas and those related to Xinfadi are not allowed to leave the city, and other residents should avoid unnecessary trips out of Beijing. By 17 June, all primary and secondary schools and kindergartens had been emptied of students, all college students had stopped coming back for the spring semester, and all off-line courses and group activities of extra-curriculum training institutions had been suspended in Beijing. In the meantime, on-line courses and services are fully available.

Beijing has been taking samples from 400,000 people on a daily average, fully leveraging the role of nucleic acid testing (NAT) in ensuring early detection. According to Zhang Qiang, Deputy Head of the Quarantine and Testing Task Force under the Beijing Leading Group on COVID-19 Response and Deputy Head of the Organization Department of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee, the following six groups of people are required to take NAT in designated places:

people related to Xinfadi and other affected markets and communities;

residents in medium- or high-risk areas;

employees in medical and health institutions in Beijing;

people providing public services;

students, teachers and employees who have returned to school; and

front-line community workers in key areas.

So far, 356,000 people have been tested. Testing of another 355,000 people exposed to the affected markets, who have been detected by big data screening, will be completed by 17 June.

After the response level upgrading, Beijing is halting wedding dinners and other group catering services, as well as off-line ceremonies, product launches, sales and other promotion events that could lead to crowding. Wang Hongcun, an official from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commerce, said that customer density will be capped at commercial venues to prevent overcrowding. Precaution measures such as mask wearing, temperature screening, disinfection, ventilation, "Beijing Health Kit" verification and entry registration will be strictly implemented. Business owners must earnestly monitor the health situation and personal protection of employees, perform their duty in early detection, reporting, quarantine and treatment, and make sure no one comes to work sick.

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