Beijing on Edge As COVID-19 Spreads

Featured, National

COVID-19 test tube | Image by Myriam B

Fear and panic have gripped the citizens of Beijing as they prepare for the possibility of another lengthy lockdown. According to Reuters, Beijing began its first of three rounds of mass COVID-19 testing on Monday.

Citizens of Beijing are fearful that they will soon endure weeks of strict lockdown as cases in the area are beginning to mount. As testing ramped up throughout the capital city, residents flocked to the stores to buy essential grocery items and household staples.

People in the country’s capital fear a situation like that in Shanghai, where citizens have endured at least three weeks of strict lockdowns and have not been given an estimate for when the lockdowns could end.

Authorities in Chaoyang (a core part of Beijing) ordered 3.45 million people who live and work there to be tested for COVID-19 three times daily. The Chinese government ordered such an intensive measure after the virus spread throughout the city undetected for about a week. Along with Chaoyang, almost all of Beijing’s 21 million people will be expected to test for COVID-19 regularly.

According to Aljazeera, Beijing has reported eighty COVID-19 infections in the last week, with thirty-three identified on Tuesday alone. Though the number of cases is minimal, authorities fear the worst and have locked the city down to curb the spread of the disease.

Beijing is acting swiftly with its testing campaigns to avoid a situation similar to that of Shanghai, where residents are angry that their basic needs — such as food and toilet paper — are not being met while they are forced to stay in isolation.

Beijing officials have stated that they will only enforce their strictest lockdown measures in the event that mass quantities of people become infected. In the meantime, they will implement strict lockdowns solely in areas with more significant numbers of infected individuals.

Aside from testing early and often, Beijing is taking lessons from Shanghai and allowing grocery stores to stay open late to help supply citizens in the event of an extended lockdown. Shanghai experienced difficulty in delivering supplies to citizens, fueling anger among residents.

Along with extended hours, Beijing officials stated that supermarket chains such as Carrefour and Wumart have doubled their inventories to support an influx of panicked buyers. Meituan, a grocery-focused e-commerce store, followed suit and increased stock and delivery staff to prepare.

As of now, schools, stores, and offices are still open in Beijing. However, officials have asked that residents limit their public activities to reduce the spread of the virus.

Chinese shares have taken a recent dive due to the extended lockdowns. According to Reuters, the blue-chip CSI300 index (.CSI300) closed down 4.9%. Beijing could continue the harrowing trend as movement restrictions tightened within an afternoon in Chaoyang.

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