Beijing authorities said Monday they had reopened a massive coronavirus isolation center, the latest in a series of measures to try to avoid a citywide lockdown.

While Beijing has only registered 400 cases since April 22, the move to commission Xiaotangshan Hospital, which has more than 1,000 beds, appears to be aimed at avoiding the fate of Shanghai, which is still in lockdown. . The hospital was built in seven days in 2003 to treat patients from the SARS epidemic and was used again in 2020 to treat Covid-19 patients.

Beijing officials are under immense pressure to quickly eradicate outbreaks. In recent days, they have placed temporary bans on dining in restaurants, closed schools indefinitely and ordered residents to show evidence of a negative test in the past week before entering public areas, including public transportation.

Universal Beijing Resort, one of the city’s top tourist attractions, was also closed just as the five-day May holiday began on Saturday. And nearly all 22 million residents of the Chinese capital have undergone three rounds of testing.

So far, the magnitude of the outbreak appears to be limited. On Monday, officials announced 50 new cases lower than the 59 reported on Sunday. At a news conference on Sunday, health officials said they had successfully sequenced dozens of cases and identified clear chains of transmission.

By acting early, officials in Beijing hope to avoid a punitive lockdown, similar to the one in Shanghai last month. Since early March, Shanghai has reported more than 550,000 cases, prompting officials to impose strict quarantine measures that have led to food shortages and supplies and protests.

The number of cases in Shanghai is now falling. On Monday, authorities reported about 6,600 new infections, up from 7,800 the day before. In recent days, the local government has closed several mass quarantine sites used to house patients.

Concerns remain about China’s older adult population, which has become one of the most vulnerable groups during the pandemic. Just over half of people 80 and older have had two injections, and less than 20 percent of that age group have received a booster, Zeng Yixin, a deputy minister of the National Health Commission, said in March.

Over the weekend, authorities were put on high alert after several videos were widely shared on Chinese social media showing workers in protective suits unzipping a body bag and returning it to a care home for older adults in Shanghai. On Monday, local officials confirmed that a person was still alive inside a body bag, according to Chinese state media. The officials added that the person had since been transferred to a hospital and showed stable vital signs.

Chinese state media later reported that four people had been fired from their positions in connection with the incident, including two local officials who oversaw the care of the elderly and the director of the nursing home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.