Beijing officials said at a news conference on Saturday that they tracked cases across several districts and involved students, tour groups and interior design workers. The capital reported 22 new local cases on Saturday, national health officials said Sunday morning.
“The city has recently seen several outbreaks involving multiple transmission chains, and the risk of continued and undetected transmission is high. The situation is urgent and gloomy,” municipal official Tian Wei told reporters Saturday. “The whole city must act at once.”
The pressure to curb the outbreak in the capital comes as cases continue to grow in Shanghai despite a failed week-long shutdown that has brought the financial center to a standstill. The city reported more than 20,000 new cases Saturday, according to national figures released Sunday morning.
Shanghai officials on Sunday also announced 39 new deaths among Covid-19 patients. It’s a record high since city officials first reported deaths in the city’s ongoing outbreak on Monday, though questions have been raised about whether the numbers account for all deaths.
In Beijing, authorities mobilized to slow down transmission as more than 20 cases were discovered in the capital over a period from midnight Friday morning to 6 p.m. 16 Saturday afternoon, officials said. A middle school where several cases were discovered was closed on Friday, with students and teachers in the district due to take more Covid-19 tests over the coming week.
Several residential communities in the same district were also placed under “control management,” according to state media, using a term that typically means residents are barred from leaving the area while undergoing testing.
Officials also warned parents against traveling outside the city because of the risk of bringing back infection.
The screening would also be increased in tour groups after cases were discovered among a group of primarily elderly tourists who were now in quarantine, officials said. At least one village in a suburb of Beijing associated with a positive case was closed when mass tests were conducted.
The urgency of curbing the outbreak comes as fears grow in China that stricter measures could be taken as the country adheres to a strict “zero-covid” policy to eliminate the spread of the virus in each outbreak.
This policy has faced its biggest challenge since March 1, when the highly transmissible Omicron variant triggered several simultaneous outbreaks. The number of cases has risen to unprecedented levels in China, driven by major outbreaks in northeastern Jilin province and Shanghai.