Beijing suspends sporting events and postpones return to classes as cluster infection linked to sea bass involves 228 people


A person walks past the closed Heaven Supermarket bar in Beijing on June 9, 2022. Photo: CFP

Beijing on Monday canceled all sporting events and postponed the resumption of face-to-face classes at schools due to cluster infections linked to bars that involved 228 cases of COVID-19 in 100 communities as of Monday.

The decision was made because the resurgence happened suddenly, spread widely and involved people from different groups, according to the municipal sports authority.

Elementary and middle schools were due to resume classes on Monday, but the move was postponed due to the resurgence.

Only graduate students returned to campuses on Monday. They are expected to take the high school entrance exams from June 24 to 26.

As restaurants resumed catering services and other businesses also received customers, Beijing began reviewing all underground venues, including bars. Venues that do not meet epidemic control requirements and ventilation standards are not allowed to open, according to the city’s routine epidemic control press briefing on Monday.

The new outbreaks, centered on a bar named Heaven Supermarket in the Sanlitun area of ​​Chaoyang District, are still in the development stage and have spread to 100 communities in 14 districts plus the Yizhuang Economic and Technological Development Zone.

Vice Premier Sun Chunlan inspected bars involved in the outbreak on Monday, urging rapid response in epidemic control and epidemiological investigation, speeding up staff transfers and quarantine to curb the resurgence as soon as possible. , creating a good environment for the opening of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

To identify hidden infections and rule out transmission risks, city officials demanded timely surveys and quarantines for close contacts. Residents are asked to scan QR codes and present valid negative nucleic acid test results within 72 hours before entering residential compounds, office buildings, stores and other public places.

Xu Hejian, the spokesperson for the municipal government, stressed that people should scan the QR code of a public site rather than only showing a green health code. Reading the site’s QR codes will facilitate epidemiological investigations and the tracing of close contacts.

For a group of visitors, each person must scan the code. Some sites allowed one person from a group to scan, leaving gaps in epidemic control.

Chaoyang district, where the bar is located and where most of the new cases have been detected, will test its residents for three consecutive days starting Monday.

Staff linked to farmers’ markets, cold chains, catering and delivery industries are tested daily, those working in pharmacies are tested every two days and the rest are tested every three days.

Forty-five new infections were reported from midnight to 3 p.m. Monday, including one at the community level.

At Sunday’s press conference, government officials said bar-related outbreaks were ‘harder to contain’ than the 2020 Xinfadi Market outbreak or the previous one, which pushed restaurants across the city to suspend catering services for more than a month.

Health experts have noted a trend of people having milder or no symptoms, likely due to characteristics of the Omicron variant and high vaccination rate, which makes detecting infections increasingly difficult.

A Beijing-based immunologist said a rapid response is still key to dealing with the outbreak.

The accuracy of nucleic acid testing is also important for overall epidemic control, the expert said, expressing concern that large amounts of mixed samples and tests affect test results and lead to a false “zero at community level” compared to the previous cycle.

After the bar-related outbreak, districts such as Chaoyang and Dongchen ordered the closure of entertainment venues, including bars, KTVs and internet cafes.


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