A county near Beijing has been quarantined after the first positive Covid case was detected, the second time this week that regions around the capital have used the measure as part of efforts to contain the spread.
Xianghe city in Hebei province issued a stay-at-home order for 384,000 residents from Friday and suspended all non-essential businesses and public transportation. People can only go outside to get emergency medical services or take part in mass testing.
The county is located about 30 miles southeast of Beijing, and residents frequently travel to town for work. Zhuozhou, which borders the capital’s southwest, was put under rapid quarantine on Tuesday after eight new cases of the coronavirus were detected.
The swift action shows how determined authorities are to stop the spread of the virus in Beijing, which has managed to keep daily cases in double digits for more than two months. China’s political center has instituted strict rules to contain the virus, requiring residents to take PCR tests every three days for transport to most sites and banning travelers from areas infected with the novel coronavirus.
Even if Beijing avoids a widespread outbreak, the lockdown of suburban areas could disrupt the capital, as many workers will now be stuck at home. Xianghe and Zhuozhou did not specify when the restrictions will be lifted.
A massive virus incursion in Beijing would be a major test of China’s “zero coronavirus” strategy and risk a political reunion later this year when President Xi Jinping is set to secure an unprecedented third term in office.
China reported 1,501 local cases on Thursday, down from a peak of more than 3,400 last week, as outbreaks in tourist destinations such as Hainan and Xinjiang eased.