COVID-19 has been spreading swiftly in Beijing, leaving many workplaces empty as employees and customers stay away from shops and restaurants. The new cases follow the country’s easing of a restrictive COVID-19 policy. We’ve gathered articles on the news.
This spread of COVID-19 is the first significant outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic. The impact was visible in an upscale shopping district, where the usually bustling shops and restaurants were practically empty, functioning in some cases on skeleton crews or offering only takeout. Similar scenes are happening across Beijing, with offices and shops reporting being understaffed or shifting work arrangements as employees either have become ill or stayed home to avoid being infected.
Recording of Asymptomatic Cases Halted
The spread of COVID-19 in China is now impossible to track, the nation’s health authorities said, announcing they have halted recording asymptomatic cases in their daily tallies. Official state media outlet China Daily reported Beijing had seen a more than sixfold increase in COVID-19 cases in hospitals in the last week and 16 times more cases in fever clinics. Li Ang, deputy director of Beijing Municipal Health Commission, said that on Dec. 9, there were 31,000 calls to emergency medical services, six times more than average.
A Reported Downturn in the Number of Infections
Nonetheless, China reported 2,291 newly confirmed cases on Dec. 13, far below the roughly 30,000 new infections a day that the nation was reporting before it lifted its mass testing requirement. This downturn in the number of reported infections is contradicted by anecdotes of people crowding hospitals waiting to be treated.
“The statistics are meaningless,” said Jörg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. China said there had not been a single COVID-19-related death since it recently lifted the pandemic restrictions. By comparison, the U.S. reported 469 COVID-19-related deaths just on Dec. 13.
Explosion in Cases Preceded Lifting of Restrictions
“The explosion of cases in China is not due to the lifting of COVID restrictions. The explosion of cases in China had started long before any easing of the zero-COVID policy,” said World Health Organization Emergencies Chief Michael Ryan. “The control measures in themselves were not stopping the disease.”