Beijing has announced it will lower its emergency response to Covid-19 from Monday after containing an outbreak of coronavirus that hit the city last month.
The Chinese capital, where only one asymptomatic case has been reported during the past two weeks, now allows gatherings of around 500 people and is cautiously opening public facilities, including parks, gyms, libraries and museums, according to the municipal government.
More than 100 patients are still in hospital after a second wave of infections starting on June 11 made over 300 people ill in the capital city, the latest government data showed.
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The public facilities set to reopen have been ordered to limit the number of visitors to half their largest capacity, while expositions, sports events and cinemas will gradually resume with similar visitor limitation measures after assessment, the government said in a statement on Monday.
Zhou Weimin, an official from the city’s tourism bureau, said the capital was already seeing signs of revival in its tourism industry after the decision to ease control measures was announced on Sunday.
“We have seen the enthusiasm to come to Beijing rebounding after we lowered the emergency response level. Online searches for plane tickets, hotels and scenic spots have spiked,” he said. But he advised tourists from other parts of the country not to swarm to the capital, a hot tourist destination during the summer holidays, and to protect themselves when travelling.
Gao Xiaojun, spokesman for the Beijing Health Commission, warned that a lower emergency response system did not mean that control measures were cancelled. Communities would continue checking visitors and their health codes, and employers should continue monitoring the health of staff, he said.
“All medical workers in the city should still stay alert,” Gao said in a press conference on Monday.
While the capital city is returning to normal again, the country’s far western city of Urumqi has become the latest battlefield against the new coronavirus. New cases there continued to rise on Monday after its first infection in 150 days was discovered on Thursday.
The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region identified 26 new infections on Sunday, mostly in its capital Urumqi, its health commission said on Monday.
That included 17 symptomatic cases and nine asymptomatic cases, which were not listed as confirmed cases although the World Health Organisation has suggested they should be.
The region now has nearly 100 cases in total since the new wave started last week, including 50 without symptoms.
The central government has sent three teams to help control the outbreak and has dispatched over 200 medical workers from 10 other provinces to help carry out nucleic acid testing, according to ts.cn, Xinjiang’s official news portal.
While Beijing quickly found out the source of its recent outbreak – Xinfadi, its largest food market – Urumqi is still investigating where the latest rebound began.
In a press conference at the weekend, the city’s health commission director Zhang Wei said it was linked to a gathering, without giving further details.
The first patient detected was a 24-year-old woman who worked at a shopping centre in the Tianshan district.
The Xinjiang region borders a number of countries, including Mongolia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has been under total lockdown since July 5 after it reported a spike in coronavirus infections and pneumonia cases.
Urumqi is home to 3.5 million people, including hundreds of thousands of Uygur Muslims. It has been declared in “wartime mode” and has imposed a citywide lockdown.
Public transport has been shut down and residents who have to leave the city must be tested.
Despite the latest infections in Beijing and Xinjiang, China has reported few significant outbreaks of Covid-19 since China declared a phase-one victory in March after the disease – which emerged in the central city of Wuhan in December – was brought under control.
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This article Coronavirus: Beijing opens up after containing cases as Xinjiang tries to shut down new outbreak first appeared on South China Morning Post