Beijing: Beijing orders school closures in tightening virus rules

BEIJING: Beijing is closing all schools in the city in a further tightening of COVID-19 restrictions as China’s capital seeks to prevent a wider outbreak.
The city of 21 million has already ordered three rounds of mass testing this week, with the third due on Friday.
On Thursday, the city’s Office of Education ordered all schools to end classes beginning Friday and said it had not determined when classes would resume.
It was also unclear whether schools would be able to offer classes online or allow students facing crucial exams to return to classes.
Beijing announced 50 new cases on Thursday, two of them asymptomatic, bringing its total in the latest wave of infections to around 150.
Students account for more than 30 percent of the total cases, with groups linked to six schools and two kindergartens in Chaoyang.
Also on Thursday, residents of two housing complexes in Beijing’s Chaoyang district were ordered to stay indoors and some clinics and businesses were closed.
Beijing has moved faster than many Chinese cities to impose restrictions while the number of cases remains low and the scale of the outbreak is still manageable.
The goal is to avoid the kind of clampdown imposed in Shanghai, where the highly transmissible omicron variant has swept through the city of 25 million.
The restrictions that limit many Shanghai residents to their homes are now in their fourth week and all schools have been online since last month.
The strict measures have sparked anger and frustration over shortages of food and basic supplies, the inability of hospitals to deal with other health emergencies, and poor conditions at centralized quarantine sites where anyone who tests positive is required, or even have contact with a positive case. to be shipped.
The National Health Commission on Thursday reported 11,285 new cases in mainland China, most of them asymptomatic and the vast majority in Shanghai, where an additional 47 deaths were reported.
Shanghai city authorities said on Wednesday they will analyze the results of new rounds of tests to determine which neighborhoods can safely expand residents’ freedom of movement.
Shanghai is trying to achieve “social zero COVID” whereby new cases are found only in people already under surveillance, such as in centralized quarantine, or among those considered close contacts.
That would indicate that the chains of transmission in the open community have been severed, reducing the risk of new clusters forming from previously undetected sources.
While China’s overall vaccination rate is around 90%, only 62% of people over the age of 60 have been vaccinated in Shanghai, the country’s largest and wealthiest city.
Health workers have been visiting the elderly in their homes to administer vaccinations in a bid to boost that figure, the city’s Health Commission said Thursday.
The pandemic and strict lockdown measures have hit the economy, especially in Shanghai, which is home to the world’s busiest port and China’s main stock market, along with a large international business community.
Shutting down the city for a full month will subtract two percent from China’s annual economic growth, according to an analysis by ING bank earlier this month.
The closures could also affect spring planting, driving up food prices, while transportation has also been hit hard.
Baiyun airport, in the southern manufacturing hub of Guangzhou, saw 80 percent of flights canceled on Thursday after “abnormal results” were found while airport staff were being tested, according to the state media source in ThePaper line.
Travel, particularly between provinces and cities, is expected to slow down during next week’s May Day holiday.
China’s international borders have remained largely closed since the COVID-19 outbreak was first discovered in the central city of Wuhan.
Despite promises from Beijing to reduce the human and economic cost of its strict “COVID-zero” strategy, leaders from President Xi Jinping on down have ruled out joining the United States and other governments that are removing restrictions and trying to live. with the virus.
All but 13 of China’s 100 largest cities by economic output were under some kind of restrictions earlier this month, according to Gavekal Dragonomics, a research firm.

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