Coronavirus News Asia

Chinese county restricts travel to contain virus

Travel restrictions were placed on nearly half a million people near Beijing on Thursday as authorities rushed to contain a fresh outbreak of the coronavirus with a mass test-and-trace effort and lockdowns in parts of the Chinese capital.

Another 21 cases of the virus were reported in the past 24 hours in Beijing, the National Health Commission said, taking the total to 158 since a fresh cluster was detected last week after months of no confirmed local transmissions.

One case was also recorded in the neighboring city of Tianjin and two more in Hebei province – which surrounds Beijing – prompting travel restrictions on Anxin county, home to nearly half a million people, banning most traffic going in and out of the area.

Essential service vehicles are allowed into Anxin, about 150 kilometers from Beijing, while private and government cars can enter and leave only if they have permission, state media said.

Beijing is collecting about 400,000 samples a day for testing amid fears the new outbreak could trigger a second wave of infections in China, which had largely brought the contagion under control since it emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year.

“I had wanted to get tested anyway, but my workplace said all mall staff must be tested,” a 25-year-old shop assistant surnamed Pang said as she lined up at the Workers’ Stadium in central Beijing to be swabbed.

“I don’t really mind waiting, it’s for the greater good and the benefit of society.”

A chef from a nearby restaurant, who gave his surname as Wang, said he had been sent by his boss to get tested. “Anyway we haven’t had many customers over the past few days, people are scared to go out as much now,” said Wang.

‘Under control’

The latest outbreak started in Beijing’s sprawling Xinfadi wholesale market, which supplies more than 70% of the city’s fresh produce.

Some 30 residential compounds have been locked down.

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