People line up to be tested for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Beijing on January 22. (AFP)
People line up to be tested for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Beijing on January 22. (AFP)

Beijing begins mass testing for Covid, Shanghai to test all hospital staff

The Beijing district tests could be a run-up to the testing of the remaining 20mn in the Capital as Chinese New Year holidays approach.
By Sutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Vinod Janardhanan
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 05:38 PM IST

Beijing began testing more than 2 million residents in two districts on Friday and Shanghai began checking all hospital staff after the first local cases were reported in the financial hub in several weeks as China continues to battle the worst Covid-19 outbreak since last March.

The Beijing district tests could be a run-up to the testing of the remaining 20mn in the Capital as Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays approach. Residents of two other districts have already completed one round of testing.

A southern district in Beijing is under a virtual lockdown after several locally transmitted Covid-19 cases were reported this month. Mainland China reported a slight decline in new daily cases on Friday - 103 from 144 infections a day earlier.

Of the new cases, 94 were local transmissions. Heilongjiang province in the northeast reported 47 new cases, while Shanghai reported six new cases and the capital, Beijing, reported three.

Beijing authorities said on Friday that they will track down and investigate everyone who entered the city from December 10 as part of efforts to prevent a fresh outbreak from spreading.

The new quarantine rules for the Capital could extend to 28 days. Millions in northern Chinese provinces have been under lockdown and localised restrictions amid worries that undetected infections could spread rapidly in the run-up to the CNY holidays in mid-February.

Hundreds of millions of people usually travel during the holiday as migrant workers return to their home provinces to see family.

Officials expect hundreds of millions to travel this year as well though the numbers are likely to be lower than in normal years.

Meanwhile, China reported its first cluster of Covid-19 cases among workers in a meat processing plant, a poultry slaughterhouse in Harbin in northeast, raising fears among local consumers who have until now mainly worried about the safety of imported foods.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 88,804, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,635.

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