Beijing races to contain ‘urgent and grim’ Covid outbreak as Shanghai lockdown continues

Hong Kong (CNN)Beijing is racing to track a Covid-19 outbreak that may have been spreading in the capital for a week, city authorities said over the weekend, raising the prospect more stringent restrictions could soon be implemented in line with other Chinese cities.Chaoyang, one of the city’s largest districts, announced Sunday that it would launch three rounds of mass testing of those who work and live in the district, some 3.5 million residents, according to the latest census.The announcement came after 11 cases were detected in a 24-hour period, sparking panic buying in the district, which includes the business center and a number of foreign embassies, as residents rushed to stock up on basic goods in case of a lockdown, despite authorities’ assurances there were ample supplies.

Beijing officials said over the weekend they were tracking cases across multiple districts and involving students, tour groups, and interior decoration workers. The capital recorded 19 new local cases on Sunday, bringing the total in the city since April 22 to 60, according to national health data released Monday 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 grim,” municipal official Tian Wei told reporters Saturday. “The whole city must act immediately.”

The pressure to contain the outbreak in the capital comes as cases continue to grow in Shanghai, despite a failed weeks-long lockdown that has brought the financial hub to a haltThe city reported more than 19,000 new cases and 51 deaths on Sunday, according to official figures released Monday morning.The daily death count marks a record high since city officials first reported fatalities in the city’s ongoing outbreak last Monday, though questions have been raised about whether the numbers account for all fatalities.

In Beijing, authorities mobilized to curb transmission, placing several residential communities in Chaoyang under “control management,” according to state media, using a term that typically means residents are barred from leaving the area while they undergo testing. A district official on Sunday warned that disruptions to business and work were inevitable in the course of fighting the outbreak.

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