Beijing reported a new COVID-19 cluster with 21 infections from a workplace, adding uncertainty to the trends in the city’s latest outbreak, a senior official said on Monday.
“By Monday afternoon, the confirmed cases of the new cluster included 17 employees, and the remaining four people were their family members,” Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said at a news conference on Monday.
“The cluster has a large scale, with the confirmed cases involving a wide range of locations in the city, including the districts of Shunyi, Haidian, Fengtai, Chaoyang, Tongzhou and Changping,” she added. “New clusters from the communities are the biggest risk for control and prevention work.”
Zhang Yanlin, deputy head of Shunyi district, said the new cluster mainly occurred in a data center of the Beijing Rural Commercial Bank in the district.
By 4 pm on Monday, the district had identified 915 close contacts of the new patients and all control measures had been undertaken. Up to 14 residential communities in Shunyi and the building of the data center were designated as precautionary zones, he said.
People in Shunyi should work from home or commute only between their home and workplace to cut the infection risks, Zhang said. Similar to measures in Chaoyang, Shunyi will also make adjustments on public transportation to reduce traffic and crowds, he added.
Forty-one of the new infections were reported in controlled zones, and nine were found during community testing, which means the chain of transmission at the community level has not been cut completely.
Since Beijing is still facing a severe epidemic situation, the city will continue to take strict measures to curb the virus from spreading, Xu Hejian, the spokesman for the municipal government, said on Monday.
Starting on Thursday, people will be asked to show negative results of nucleic acid tests within 48 hours before entering government institutions, departments, office buildings, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants in the capital, he said.
The Beijing Health Commission has decided to conduct another three rounds of mass nucleic acid testing from Tuesday to Thursday for all people living or working in Chaoyang, Shunyi and Fangshan districts in order to quickly identify infection risks.
Beijing subdistricts and counties that have reported COVID-19 cases in the past seven days should conduct the three rounds of testing on those days, said Li Ang, deputy director of the commission.
Due to tighter regulations and to meet the testing needs of residents, the authority announced that starting on Tuesday, six districts－Dongcheng, Xicheng, Fengtai, Shijingshan and Haidian, as well as Chaoyang beginning on Friday－will provide testing service on odd-numbered days, and the rest will offer testing service on even-numbered days.
“Rent-Free” for 6 Months
Chaoyang district in Beijing said it will reduce or exempt six months worth of rent for small, medium and micro-sized service enterprises and individual businesses that rent state-owned properties in 2022, a move aimed at relieving the burden on businesses experiencing hardship during the epidemic.
The announcement released on Monday is a part of a notification which encourages residents in the district to work from home.
Chaoyang district said landlords of non-state-owned properties are encouraged to appropriately reduce or exempt rents as well.
Meanwhile, the local government said it has purchased insurance for resumption of work and production, and those small and micro service enterprises that suspend production can apply for insurance compensation and will be compensated at 100 yuan ($14.9) per person per day for a maximum of 21 days.