Beijing in a fix as new COVID wave proves toughest in 17 months

Amid rising cases, city authorities tell companies to cancel events, bring in fresh curbs and contact tracing

Beijing has registered 45 cases in the latest COVID wave. (Representational image)

City officials are directing organisers to move offline events online — or cancel them — as Beijing grapples with a fresh bout of COVID. The fact that the caseload is the highest in 17 months, despite the vaccination programme, has left healthcare professionals as well as city administrators puzzled.

China is struggling to rein in the fourth major outbreak — over five months — of the Delta variant of COIVD, which is said to be highly virulent. The country has witnessed over 1,000 locally-transmitted infections across 21 provinces, said a Bloomberg report. This marks the broadest flare-up of the pandemic since the first case was reported in Wuhan.

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Further, Beijing has registered 45 cases in the latest wave, which marks a nearly one-and-a-half-year record, the report added. The cases were this high last in the June 2020 wave.


Instructions to organisations

Organisations operating in Beijing have been told to cancel all offline events such as conferences, and trim public interactions. A Reuters report quoted city authorities as saying at a press conference that companies and individuals hosting events will be held responsible if cases are reported from local transmission. This came after the city saw seven new cases on just one day.

City government spokesperson Xu Hejian told media persons that the new COVID wave came is very fast, and infected a large number of people. This created a wide trajectory of the pandemic and made containment difficult, he added. Already, Beijing has shut down a shopping mall and a hospital. Further, movement curbs and contract tracing are being implemented, similar to the earlier waves.

It is imperative for the government to rein in the new wave in the capital city, where a Communist Party plenum is close to conclusion. Around 400 senior political leaders are in attendance. Also, the city is set to host the Winter Olympics from February 2022 — its success would depend vastly on containing the pandemic. As is, Japan had struggled to hold the 2020 Olympics amid rising cases, with several participants pulling out of events.