Beijing launches mass testing as China reports slight drop in daily Covid-19 cases

BEIJING (REUTERS) – Beijing launched mass Covid-19 testing in parts of the city on Friday (Jan 22), while Shanghai was testing all hospital staff, as China battles the worst outbreak since March 2020.

Mainland China reported a slight decline in new daily Covid-19 cases on Friday – 103 from 144 cases a day earlier.

Of these new cases, 94 were local transmissions: north-eastern Heilongjiang reported 47 new cases, while Jilin province reported 19 new cases. Shanghai reported six new cases, while the capital Beijing reported three new cases.

Some districts in Beijing launched mass Covid-19 tests following several consecutive days of new cases in the Chinese capital, with long queues forming in certain parts of the town.

Shanghai began testing all hospital staff for the disease on Thursday after two such workers tested positive.

Tens of millions of people have been under some kind of lockdown in northern cities amid worries that undetected infections could spread quickly during the Lunar New Year holiday, which is just weeks away. 

Hundreds of millions of people usually travel during the holiday, in mid-February this year, as migrant workers return to their home provinces to see family.

Officials expect large numbers of travellers, although much fewer than in normal years.

Hebei province, next to Beijing, reported 18 new locally transmitted cases.

At the high speed railway station in its largest city Shijiazhuang, passengers were allowed to get off a train on Friday but none were seen getting on.

Train staff said they saw none getting on a day earlier either. 

Beijing’s west train station, which normally sees vast numbers of passengers passing through in the run up to the Lunar New Year, was virtually empty on Friday morning. 

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 119 from 113 cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Mainland China now stands at 88,804, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,635.

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