Beijing Lifts Some Lockdowns As Virus Cases Drop

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(FILES) This file photo taken on April 29, 2020 shows an engineer taking samples of monkey kidney cells as he make tests on an experimental vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus inside the Cells Culture Room laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing.Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP) 

Beijing lifted several lockdowns imposed to control a fresh coronavirus outbreak and reported just three new cases in the city on Wednesday, raising hopes that the cluster had been brought under control.

The Chinese capital had closed off dozens of residential compounds and carried out mass testing last month after hundreds of infections raised fears of a virus resurgence.

But five residential communities that have had no new virus cases during a control period were released from lockdown on Tuesday, state media reported, as the city relaxed curbs.

Seven other Beijing communities saw their lockdowns lifted last Friday.

The vast majority of cases have been linked to the sprawling Xinfadi market that supplies about 80 percent of Beijing’s fresh produce and meat, sparking concern about food safety.

State media outlet China News reported that the lockdown of five communities in the hard-hit Fengtai district was lifted, and disease control experts would propose a plan for removing restrictions on another seven in the area surrounding the market.

But the report said even the communities freed from lockdown would have to “strictly implement closed management”, with non-residents unable to enter the compounds.

Communities will also issue entry passes for residents.

China had largely brought the deadly outbreak under control before the new Beijing cluster was detected.

The government has since imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in neighbouring Hebei province to contain a fresh cluster there, adopting the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the epicentre of Wuhan city earlier this year.

However, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiology expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in June that the new outbreak had been “brought under control”.

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