Half a million in lockdown as Beijing fights new coronavirus cluster

Half a million in lockdown as Beijing fights new coronavirus cluster
The new coronavirus cases in Beijing have prompted fears of a resurgence of the virus in China. (AFP)
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Updated 28 June 2020

Half a million in lockdown as Beijing fights new coronavirus cluster

Half a million in lockdown as Beijing fights new coronavirus cluster
  • Only one person from each family will be allowed to go out once a day to purchase necessities
  • Move comes after another 14 cases of the virus were reported in the past 24 hours in Beijing

BEIJING: China imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, as authorities warned it was soon to “relax” over the new cluster of cases.
After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in neighboring Hebei province.
Health officials said Sunday that Anxin county — about 150 kilometers from Beijing — will be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year.
Now, only one person from each family will be allowed to go out once a day to purchase necessities such as food and medicine, the county’s epidemic prevention task force said in a statement.
Earlier the county had been subject to some travel restrictions, but now individuals are only allowed to leave their homes to seek medical treatment, the notice said.
The move comes after another 14 cases of the virus were reported in the past 24 hours in Beijing, taking the total to 311 since mid-June.
The outbreak was first detected in Beijing’s sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food market, which supplies much of the city’s fresh produce and sparked concerns over the safety of the food supply chain.
Businesses in Anxin county had supplied freshwater fish to the market, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Some 12 cases of the novel coronavirus were found in the area, including 11 linked to Xinfadi market, the state-run Global Times reported.
The new cases in Beijing have prompted fears of a resurgence of the virus in China.
The capital has mass-tested wholesale market workers, restaurant workers, residents of medium and high-risk neighborhoods and delivery couriers over the past week.
Testing has now expanded to include all employees of the city’s beauty parlors and hair salons, the Global Times said.
Beijing city official Xu Hejian told reporters Saturday: “There is no room for us to relax.”
City officials have urged people not to leave the city, closed schools again and locked down dozens of residential compounds to stamp out the virus.
But Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiology expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters last week the new outbreak had been “brought under control,” and officials lifted a weeks-long lockdown imposed on seven communities in Beijing on Friday.


Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters

Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters
Updated 17 January 2021

Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters

Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters
  • More than 820 people were injured and over 27,800 left their homes after the 6.2 magnitude quake
  • On Jan. 9, a Sriwijaya Air jet crashed into the Java Sea with 62 onboard

JAKARTA: At least 73 people have been killed after an earthquake struck Indonesia’s West Sulawesi province on Friday, the disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said on Sunday, the latest in a string of disasters to hit the Southeast Asian country.
More than 820 people were injured and over 27,800 left their homes after the 6.2 magnitude quake, BNPB spokesman Raditya Jati said. Some sought refuge in the mountains, while others went to cramped evacuation centers, witnesses said.
Police and military officers have been deployed to crack down on looting in several parts of the region, Jati added.
An emergency response status, intended to help rescue efforts, has also been put in place for two weeks, he said.
Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Indonesia’s meteorological, climatology and geophysical agency (BMKG), has said that another quake in the region could potentially trigger a tsunami.
Straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2018, a devastating 6.2-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck the city of Palu, in Sulawesi, killing thousands.
Just two weeks into the new year, the world’s fourth-most populous country is battling several disasters.
Floods in North Sulawesi and South Kalimantan province each have killed at least five this month, while landslides in West Java province have killed at least 29, authorities said.
On Jan. 9, a Sriwijaya Air jet crashed into the Java Sea with 62 onboard.
East Java’s Semeru mountain erupted late on Saturday, but there have been no reports of casualties or evacuations.
Dwikorita said extreme weather and other “multi-dangers” of hydrometeorology are forecast in the coming weeks.