COVID-19: half a million rural residents confined to Beijing

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Beijing | Chinese authorities on Monday ordered the temporary containment of 500,000 inhabitants of villages in the municipality of Beijing, in order to prevent any spread of a small epidemic of COVID-19.

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The capital of China stretches over a territory the size of half of Belgium. It has a total of some 21.5 million inhabitants, spread across urban and rural areas.

China has largely contained the COVID-19 epidemic on its soil since the spring of 2020. Regularly confronted with the emergence of localized outbreaks, it treats them in particular with confinements, massive screening and monitoring of movements.

The authorities are particularly vigilant as the Lunar New Year holidays approach (February 11-17). It is the main holiday of the year, when hundreds of millions of Chinese take transport to return to their families.

The municipality of Beijing reported on Monday a new case of COVID-19, for a total of 32 patients confirmed since December 19, mainly in the district of Shunyi (northeast of the capital).

In reaction, “all the villages” of Shunyi are placed in “closed management”, that is to say confined, announced Monday during a press point Zhi Xianwei, deputy mayor of the district.

Clearly, some 518,000 inhabitants will not be able to leave the borders of these villages until a new massive screening currently underway is not completed.

Chinese health experts have not yet identified the source of this epidemic focus. However, it is much more modest than that of June-July 2020 in Beijing, when more than 300 patients with COVID-19 had been recorded.

But authorities intend to avoid any further infection as the Lunar New Year approaches, which typically results in the world’s largest human migration, with stations and airports crowded for days or even weeks.

The municipality of Beijing has already canceled the major festive events planned during the holidays and called on residents not to leave the city to avoid any spread of the coronavirus.

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