Beijing probes 24-hour bar at the centre of fast-spreading Covid cluster

Updated on Jun 14, 2022 02:50 PM IST
The Heaven Supermarket bar in Beijing had reopened for in-dining on June 6, the very day when the latest outbreak was triggered by an individual said to have not taken Covid-19 test for days
People walk past a sign of the Heaven Supermarket bar, where a Covid-19 outbreak emerged, in Chaoyang district of Beijing, China. (REUTERS)
People walk past a sign of the Heaven Supermarket bar, where a Covid-19 outbreak emerged, in Chaoyang district of Beijing, China. (REUTERS)
BySutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Amit Chanda

BEIJING: Chinese authorities on Tuesday launched a multi-department probe into a 24-hour bar in Beijing at the centre of rapidly spreading Covid-19 outbreak that has triggered mass tests, sent thousands of contacts to centralised quarantine facilities and closed down entertainment venues across the capital.

A joint team comprising officials from several departments including health and public security will work together to investigate the Heaven Supermarket bar, “quickly, strictly and seriously”, the state-backed Beijing Daily reported on Tuesday.

The bar is located in a popular area of Beijing’s most populous district, Chaoyang, with many bars and restaurants.

The Heaven Supermarket bar had reopened for in-dining on June 6, the very day when the latest outbreak was triggered by an individual said to have not taken Covid-19 test for days.

As a result, Chaoyang began a three-day mass testing on Monday for its roughly 3.5 million residents.

The renewal of daily testing comes days after Beijing eased restrictions on movement and allowed staggered testing after seemingly bringing under control the ongoing outbreak, which started on April 22.

About 10,000 close contacts of the bar’s patrons have been identified, authorities said, adding that their residential buildings have been locked down.

From June 9 to 3pm on June 13, the city reported 228 infections in the Covid-19 cluster related to the bar across 100 communities; overall, Beijing has reported over 2,000 cases since April 22.

People infected in the outbreak live or work in 14 of the capital’s 16 districts, authorities have said.

“To cut off the virus’s spread as soon as possible, Beijing has carried out a mass inspection of entertainment places such as bars, nightclubs, KTVs, and internet cafes. Underground and other unqualified entertainment venues are being shut down,” official news agency Xinhua, reported on Tuesday.

All entertainment venues in underground spaces have been shut down and epidemic prevention work in the city is being “tightened”, the report said.

Chinese vice-premier Sun Chunlan on Monday urged solid and meticulous Covid-19 prevention and control work in Beijing in order to contain the spread of the epidemic as soon as possible.

Sun, according to Xinhua, made the remarks during an inspection tour of the Covid-19 prevention and control work in the national capital, where she visited sites hit by the latest wave of infections including the now-closed bar.

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