Beijing launches massive screening after a few cases of Covid

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Beijing launched a massive screening of its residents on Friday after a few cases of Covid, including some linked to the English variant, leading to the formation of impressive queues in the streets of the Chinese capital.

• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic

The two central districts of Dongcheng and Xicheng, where Tiananmen Square and countless government buildings are located, have announced that they want to test all their residents and workers – at least 2 million people – in two days.

China, where the epidemic appeared at the end of 2019, has largely contained it since last spring, thanks to confinements, movement monitoring, drastic screening of people coming from abroad and screening. Only one death has been recorded since May.

Beijing launches massive screening after a few cases of Covid

But small outbreaks have emerged in the north of the country in recent weeks. Beijing has registered 19 patients with COVID-19 in the past seven days. Some are linked to the English variant of the coronavirus, which is more contagious.

An AFP journalist on Friday observed in the capital the formation of a queue of more than 400 meters, or about 1,000 people, in front of a screening site in the district of Dongcheng.

“I received a notification this morning to get tested. I came during the lunch break, without thinking that there would be so many people! », Said a resident.

On the Weibo social network, several Pekingese have reported “endless” queues.

Xicheng authorities said on Friday that some COVID-19 patients had passed through the district and that “the increased risk of an importation” of the coronavirus into the area justified the ongoing screening.

Beijing launches massive screening after a few cases of Covid

The Beijing municipality, the heart of political power, is being extremely cautious as the Lunar New Year holidays approach (February 11-17).

These usually cause massive transport influxes of hundreds of millions of people returning home for the family holiday – the biggest of the year in the country.

In the district of Daxing (south of Beijing), the authorities had already prohibited 1.6 million inhabitants from leaving the city and confined a little more than 20,000 people in residential areas.

At the national level, the Ministry of Health reported on Friday 103 new patients with COVID-19, including six in Shanghai (eastern China) and three in Beijing.

The majority of the other cases were recorded in the northeastern provinces of the country.

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