Beijing’s bar-linked COVID outbreak is ‘ferocious’, official says

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SHENZHEN, China, June 12 (Reuters) – A COVID-19 outbreak linked to a bar in China’s capital Beijing is “ferocious”, local government spokesman Xu Hejian said at a news conference on Sunday.

Some 166 cases have been linked so far to the outbreak at the Chaoyang Heaven Supermarket Bar, which emerged last week.

Authorities reported 33 new cases on Sunday as of 3 p.m. (0700 GMT). The capital has reported 1,997 local COVID cases since April 22.

A man undergoes a COVID-19 test in Beijing, China. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

China’s capital Beijing is experiencing an “explosive” COVID-19 outbreak connected to a bar, a government spokesman said on Saturday, as the commercial hub, Shanghai,conducted mass testing to contain a jump in cases tied to a hair salon.

The warning followed a new tightening of COVID curbs in Beijing since Thursday, with at least two districts closing some entertainment venues after a flare-up in a neighbourhood full of nightlife, shopping and embassies.

While China’s infection rate is low by global standards, it maintains a zero-COVID policy, citing the need to protect the elderly and the medical system, even as other countries try to live with the virus.

So far, the country of 1.4 billion has seen just 5,226 deaths from COVID-19.

Beijing only relaxed curbs less than two weeks ago that had been imposed to fight a major outbreak that began in April.

The sprawling Universal Beijing Resort – a theme park on the city’s outskirts – on Friday rescinded a plan to reopen. City authorities said three of its workers had visited the Heaven Supermarket bar.

Many neighbourhoods in the capital have been put under lockdown, with residents told to stay home.

In Shanghai, officials announced three new confirmed local cases and one asymptomatic case detected outside quarantined areas on Saturday, as nearly all the city’s 25 million residents began a new round of COVID tests.

Authorities ordered PCR testing for all residents in 15 of Shanghai’s 16 districts this weekend, and five districts barred residents from leaving home during the testing period. A city official said residents should complete at least one PCR test a week until July 31.

China’s most populous city only lifted a gruelling two-month COVID-19 lockdown on June 1.

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