Beijing Eases Virus Restrictions After 2 Weeks of No New Cases

Beijing authorities lowered the city’s Covid-19 emergency response level after almost two weeks of no new domestic coronavirus infections.

The response level will be changed to 3 from 2 from July 20, on a scale where 1 is the most serious, Chen Bei, vice secretary general of the municipal government, said at a briefing on Sunday. The city will reopen public places including parks, museums and libraries at 50% of their accommodation capacity, Chen said.

The outbreak that started in mid-June infected at least 335 people and sparked fears of a second wave in China, but ended up being contained relatively quickly in less than 30 days. Although the city of over 20 million was never fully locked down like Wuhan, where the virus first emerged, activity has dipped significantly since the outbreak. Cultural performances, exhibitions and sports events will gradually resume with capacity limits upon authorities’ review, Chen said.

China is re-opening cinemas on Monday and other venues that had been shut, such as gyms, are expected to follow. Schools are closed for summer vacation but should now re-open as scheduled on Sept. 1.

Beijing Eases Virus Restrictions After 2 Weeks of No New Cases

“It takes two weeks for zero new cases to sustain before we can conclude that local cases will not lead to recurrent cases,” Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state media last month.

The containment of the resurgence in its political and cultural center is a boost to China’s confidence in the fight against the pandemic, as other cities in the region including Hong Kong and Tokyo struggle with new waves. But the coronavirus is re-appearing in other parts of the country, underscoring the challenges ahead.

On Friday, officials halted subway service and locked down housing compounds in Urumqi, the capital city of western Xinjiang province, after six infections were reported, along with 11 asymptomatic cases. As of early Sunday, the number reported had increased to 30 confirmed cases and 41 asymptomatic carriers.

China has also announced that it’s detected the virus on the packaging of imported shrimp in a number of different provinces, raising alarm that the pathogen can spread through the global food trade. But authorities said that there’s no evidence that the traces of virus found can be infectious.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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