Beijing Vows Swift Action to Curb University Covid Outbreak

  • Cluster stems from students returning from holidays: official
  • Authorities in Xinjiang apologize for food, medical shortages

A Covid outbreak at one of China’s top media schools should be stamped out in the “shortest period of time,” Beijing government officials said Sunday, as the capital reported 15 new infections.

Schools have become new clusters for Covid in the capital, with a total of 81 cases, mostly students, found in two universities and one high school, according to a report from Beijing News. Students at China Communication University have been confined to their dorm rooms, while the other two schools implemented partial lockdowns. A government spokesman said the outbreaks stemmed from students returning from holidays.

Nationwide, 949 cases were reported for Sunday, down from 1,138 on Saturday — the first time daily cases have fallen below 1,000 since Aug. 9.

China is intensifying lockdowns and restrictions as a key Communist Party meeting looms. Chengdu, the country’s sixth-largest city with 21 million people, and parts of Guiyang, home to China’s biggest residential compound where some 400,000 people live in 300 buildings, are locked down, while Beijing has tightened travel curbs for anyone entering or leaving the capital.

The policies seem designed to reduce the risk of outbreaks before the Party Congress in mid-October in Beijing, a once-in-five-years meeting where President Xi Jinping is due to secure a precedent-breaking third term in office. The enforcement measures highlight yet again the government’s commitment to stamp out the virus even as the economic and social costs climb.

Chengdu reported 41 cases for Sunday, while Guiyang recorded 131. The tech hub of Shenzhen added 25 cases.

The Chengdu government will gradually let seven city districts and some towns “gradually resume normal production and life,” according to a statement late Sunday. The city maintained a number of restrictive measures in a Sept. 7 statement, aiming at achieving zero Covid cases within a week.

Meantime, authorities in Xinjiang have apologized for shortages of food and medicine in areas that have been locked down for a month to contain a Covid-19 outbreak. Reports of shortages and tough conditions in Yili, a part of of northern Xinjiang bordering Kazakhstan, have been swirling on Chinese social media for days, with some claiming posts on the situation were being censored.

Officials admitted Friday that there had been issues, with Liu Qinghua, deputy governor of the affected area, saying the lockdown had prevented some people from accessing hospital treatment, and that there had been problems distributing food.

Source: Bloomberg

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