Covid: Beijing ‘preparing 1,000-bed hospital for new virus spike’

·2-min read

Beijing is preparing thousands of hospital beds to deal with a spike in Covid-19 cases, according to local reports.

A 1,000-bed hospital at Xiaotangshan in the northeastern suburbs, built for the 2003 Sars outbreak, has been refurbished in case it is needed, state media reported on Tuesday.

Unofficial reports online say thousands of beds have also been prepared in a centralised quarantine centre near the airport, but state media has not confirmed those preparations in what could be an attempt to avoid stoking public fears.

New cases in the Chinese capital remain low compared with the outbreak hundreds of miles south in Shanghai.

Beijing has reported about 450 cases in the two weeks since the outbreak began, while Shanghai continues to rack up thousands of cases a day.

Cases have remained steady in Beijing, with another 62 recorded on Monday, 11 of them showing no symptoms, up just slightly from about 50 per day over the weekend.

People enjoy the sun in a public park in Beijing amid a Covid-19 outbreak (Reuters)
People enjoy the sun in a public park in Beijing amid a Covid-19 outbreak (Reuters)

China has stuck to its strict “zero-Covid” approach that restricts travel, mass tests entire cities and sets up sprawling temporary facilities to try to isolate every infected person.

Lockdowns start with buildings and neighbourhoods but become city-wide if the virus is spreading widely.

Experts have questioned whether China’s hardline policy is an effective approach, saying vaccines and new treatments for Covidmake it redundant.

Beijing has ordered restaurants and gyms closed for the May Day national holiday that runs until Wednesday, while major tourist sites in the city, including the Forbidden City and the Beijing Zoo, closed their indoor exhibition halls on Tuesday.

Another three rounds of testing have been ordered for most of the city’s 21 million people following a similar requirement last week.

A health worker takes a swab sample from a man to be tested for Covid-19 coronavirus along a street in Beijing (AFP/Getty)
A health worker takes a swab sample from a man to be tested for Covid-19 coronavirus along a street in Beijing (AFP/Getty)

Authorities in Shanghai are slowly beginning to ease lockdown restrictions that have confined most of the city’s 26 million people to their apartments, housing compounds or immediate neighbourhoods for close to a month.

Shanghai recorded another 5,669 cases on Monday, all but 274 of them asymptomatic, along with an additional 20 deaths.

Shanghai’s surprisingly low death toll amid an outbreak of more than 400,000 cases has sparked questions into how such deaths are tallied.

The severe lockdown conditions have led to massive disruptions from food shortages to a wider, though likely temporary impact on the national economy.

China’s largest city recorded a daily peak of 27,605 new cases nearly three weeks ago on 13 April.

Additional reporting by AP

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