Beijing is tightening the COVID-network, issuing penalties and clear warnings

  • The city of Beijing fines some postal workers for local clusters
  • Some employees of the state railway were looking for concealment of travel histories
  • The cities of Tianjin and Xian launch new rounds of mass testing

BEIJING, May 25 (Reuters) – China’s COVID-hit capital Beijing has continued to tighten its dragnet against the virus, aiming for no community transmission, penalizing workplaces that break rules or skirting curbs and urging residents to keep theirs monitor your own movements.

The city of 22 million has been dealing with dozens of new cases every day since the end of April. While these were mostly located in quarantine areas, a handful have been found in the community at large, illustrating the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant and the challenges posed by the world’s toughest pandemic containment guidelines.

With Shanghai, China’s business and commercial hub, and numerous other megacities also chained by partial lockdowns or other restrictions, the zero-COVID approach remains in focus despite the damage it has inflicted on the world’s second largest economy and global supply chains the government.

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This week, the city stepped up quarantine efforts and restricted workplace attendance, with more counties issuing work-from-home requirements or guidance. This was followed on Monday by a tour of inspection by Vice Premier Sun Chunlan – in charge of China’s COVID response – during which she called for more thorough measures to break the chains of transmission.

Some workplaces have ignored COVID prevention guidelines, state-run Xinhua News Agency wrote in an op-ed, failing to check their employees’ health profiles, opening a loophole for the epidemic to spread.

“Even through the smallest gaps, a big wind can penetrate,” says the comment published on Wednesday.

In an example of disciplinary action, some employees at Beijing’s state postal service were either fired or given a severe warning after a series of cases hit a private logistics company under its jurisdiction, the city’s anti-corruption agency said late Tuesday. The regulator said the company failed to organize COVID testing for its employees and failed to adhere to strict vaccination rules.

In another case, a handful of employees at a branch of the state-owned railway company in Beijing withheld their travel history and were under police investigation, the watchdog said in a separate statement.

Meanwhile, some operations at a major real estate agency in Beijing have been suspended after an employee violated a district-wide rule to work from home, the city government’s housing department said on Wednesday.


Throughout the week, Beijing health officials have been sending text messages to people’s cellphones, urging them to monitor the travel histories of COVID cases and report to local officials if their own movements overlap those of those infected .

A Beijing resident surnamed Shi, whose apartment building recently emerged from lockdown, said she tried not to stray too far from her home for fear of accidentally entering areas with cases and theirs recorded by an app on her phone Compromise COVID health records.

“I basically just walk around areas around my condominiums, go to the supermarket and don’t dare travel too far,” she said.

Elsewhere in the country, a number of densely populated cities have also launched new rounds of mass testing, although case numbers are very small by international standards.

The northern port city of Tianjin on Wednesday initiated a new round of city-wide testing after more than a dozen daily new infections emerged this week after two such rounds of testing last weekend. Tianjin requires its 14 million residents to keep their movements largely close to where they live and to stick to a “relatively static” mode during testing.

The northwest city of Xian has pushed ahead with a routine mass testing campaign previously scheduled for Friday through Wednesday as the city of 13 million scrambles to reduce the risk of transmission after five local infections were detected in the past 10 days.

In Shanghai, which is seeking a full exit from a strict citywide lockdown on June 1, it is gradually and cautiously easing COVID curbs and allowing more of its 25 million residents to venture out. Still, the vast majority of shops, restaurants and businesses remain closed and a home working regime remains in place.

After nearly two months of lockdown, this much-anticipated exit is expected to restart the engines of its economy.

Exports from Shanghai, the world’s largest container port, fell 44% last month from a year earlier, and imports fell by a third, the local statistics office said on Tuesday — the sharpest drop since at least 2011.

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Reporting by Ryan Woo and Roxanne Liu; Additional coverage by Ellen Zhang and the Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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