Vice-premier calls for swift, scientific efforts as cluster's tally still rising
The COVID-19 infection cluster linked to a bar in Beijing's Sanlitun area has continued to grow since Thursday, leading to stricter prevention measures and more residential communities being put under lockdown on Monday.
Beijing has reported 228 infections linked to the bar, called Heaven Supermarket, between midnight Thursday and 3 p.m. Monday, which has brought the total tally of infections in Beijing's latest outbreak to 2,059 since April 22.
During an inspection tour on Monday to Heaven Supermarket and Helen's, another bar where some infected people had been, Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan called for swift action and scientific and effective measures to contain the COVID-19 epidemic.
The epidemic outbreak from the bar is still developing and the people infected are scattered across a wide area, which adds to the difficulty in dealing with the epidemic. Sun stressed the enhancement of epidemic prevention and control measures in key spots and to evaluate the potential risks in industries with densely populated and closed environments one by one, and allow the reopening of these industries in a safe and secure manner.
"With the epidemic outbreak developing quickly and spreading widely, the risks of infection still exist and more areas are likely to be involved in future," Liu Xiaofeng, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said at a news conference on Monday.
Beijing reported 50 new locally transmitted cases on Sunday and 45 new cases as of 3 p.m. on Monday－two found from the nucleic acid testing at community level and all the rest from centralized quarantine locations, according to the center.
Of all the new 228 cases related to the bar, 180 had been there and four are employees of the bar. The remaining 44 are related to the confirmed cases.
Before the infection cluster occurred on Thursday, Beijing had five straight days of zero local cases reported. The sudden new infections have led to stricter control measures.
Many districts including Chaoyang, Haidian and Dongcheng have placed dozens of residential communities under lockdown management in order to stop the virus spreading.
Beijing's sports bureau announced on Monday that all offline sporting events should be suspended immediately.
Chaoyang district, where the bar is located, is conducting three days of mass nucleic acid tests for all its residents starting on Monday. From Thursday afternoon when the cluster was reported, all entertainment venues, internet cafes, underground gyms and sports facilities in Chaoyang were ordered to suspend operation.
Beijing conducted a citywide check on epidemic control and prevention procedures in entertainment venues, including all bars, internet cafes and board game clubs located underground.
Xu Hejian, spokesman of the city government, said on Monday that all underground venues that failed to strictly follow the epidemic control and prevention procedures should suspend operation.
Haidian district, which reported three new cases as of 3 p.m. on Monday, has had 13 residential communities under lockdown management and one controlled zone since Thursday, according to Xiao Dan, spokeswoman of the district government.
She said all 278 entertainment venues including all bars, internet cafes and escape rooms have suspended operation.
On Monday, students in the senior grade of middle school and living outside of controlled zones went back to campus as scheduled after a month of learning at home.
Due to the new cluster, students in other grades of middle school and those in primary and high school, as well as kindergartens, were asked to continue online classes.