China set to announce ‘entire lockdown’ of Beijing as track and trace ‘not enough’

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The prediction comes from Professor Ben Cowling who told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that China’s track and trace programme may not be enough to control a second coronavirus wave starting in Beijing. He warned the Communist regime may soon call for a complete lockdown of the city after over 100 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed. He said: “What we’re seeing in Beijing is authorities are jumping very quickly on those cluster of cases now, there’s about 100 cases.

“And I think we will see soon a lockdown of the entire city of Beijing to stop it from developing into a second wave.”

Asked whether he thought they would issue a lockdown rather than rely on track and trace, he replied: “Yes, they’ve already used track and trace to find about 60 cases and they tested more than 100,000 people to find another 40, which they wouldn’t have known about if they hadn’t done mass testing.

“But I think it’s not going to be enough to stop the outbreak from going up further, unless they do a lockdown.

“So I think they’re going to do a lockdown.”

On Tuesday, Beijing banned high-risk people from leaving the Chinese capital and halted some transportation services to stop the spread of a fresh coronavirus outbreak to other cities and provinces.

China’s financial hub of Shanghai demanded some travellers from Beijing be quarantined for two weeks, as 27 new COVID-19 cases took the capital’s current outbreak to 106 since Thursday.

That makes it the most serious flare-up in China since February, stoking fears of a second wave of the respiratory disease which emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year and has now infected more than 8 million people worldwide.

“Beijing will take the most resolute, decisive, and strict measures to contain the outbreak,” Xu Hejian, spokesman at the Beijing city government, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The outbreak has been traced to the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food centre in the southwest of Beijing where thousands of tonnes of vegetables, fruits and meat change hands each day.

Beijing had designated 22 neighbourhoods as medium-risk areas as of Monday. Medium-risk areas are required to take stringent measures to block the potential entry of infection.

All high-risk groups in Beijing, such as people who are close contacts of confirmed cases, are not allowed to leave the city, state media reported on Tuesday, citing municipal officials.

All outbound taxi and car-hailing services have also been suspended. Some long-distance bus routes between Beijing and nearby Hebei and Shandong provinces were suspended.

Concerned about contagion risks, many provinces have imposed quarantine requirements on visitors from Beijing.

One suspected case who flew from Beijing to southwestern Sichuan province has become a confirmed case, health authorities said on Tuesday, and local officials are rounding up 111 close contacts for observation.

Hebei province reported four new cases, with two having come into direct contact with a virus carrier in the Chinese capital, and one being an operator at the Xinfadi market.

On Tuesday, Shanghai started to require travellers from medium-to-high risk COVID-19 areas in China to be quarantined for 14 days.

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The stakes are high for Shanghai, which has been invited to host two Formula One races this season. U.S. airlines are also poised to resumes flights to the city.

‘WARTIME’ MODE While not in a Wuhan-style lockdown, the Chinese capital has gone into a “wartime” mode on a district level, with local neighbourhoods instituting 24-hour security checkpoints, closing schools and banning wedding banquets.

Overnight, some parts of Beijing including the city’s old-style hutong neighbourhoods were fenced up, with some imposing single entry points.

“My neighbourhood has four or five entry ways, and when the controls came, only the southern entrance was open, and we now need to show our entry cards and have our temperatures taken,” said a man surnamed Zhao who lives in the northeast of Beijing.

“It’s a big neighbourhood with lots of office workers, so it is extremely inconvenient for a lot of people.”

However, in Huaxiang, the only neighbourhood currently designated as high-risk, some residents demanded officials impose more stringent contact tracing protocols.

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