Beijing is expanding the mass testing that has taken place in one district this week, to include almost all of the city’s 22 million population, increasing fears that the city is about to go into lockdown.
The Chinese capital began mass testing in the district of Chaoyang on Monday, and quickly expanded the program to 10 other districts and a business zone as the first results came in.
The decision to expand testing across the city comes after just 33 new cases were reported by the city’s health authority. Although there are fears the move predates stricter measures such as lockdowns, it is also the most likely move to prevent such measures being necessary.
The Chinese capital is moving much quicker than Shanghai, who waited until cases had passed the 1,000 mark before launching city-wide testing. Officials in Beijing will be hoping that by moving earlier they can avoid a similar fate, with China’s most populous city crippled by restrictions on movement and business operations recently.
“To resolutely curb the risk of the spread of the epidemic and effectively maintain the health of the citizens, it was decided to further expand the scope of regional screening on the basis of the tests done in Chaoyang district,” a spokesman for Beijing’s municipal government said .
Despite widespread criticism, China continues to pursue a policy of containing Covid outbreaks by whatever means necessary. The effects of such policies have been felt outside the country, with global supply lines disrupted as a result of Chinese shutdowns.
The latest outbreak of the virus in Beijing has increased fears that the capital will be the latest city forced into lockdown, further impeding the country’s economic outlook.
Chinese shares have slumped to a two-year low as investors move their money out of the country, and the yuan has been steadily dropping against the US dollar since the middle of the month.