A child receives a throat swab for a COVID-19 test at a testing site in Beijing on Thursday. AP
The Chinese capital of Beijing closed some public spaces and stepped up checks at others on Thursday, as most of the city's 22 million residents embarked on more COVID-19 mass testing aimed at averting a Shanghai-like lockdown.
Beijing shifted more classes online Thursday in a further tightening of COVID-19 restrictions, as China’s capital seeks to prevent a wider outbreak.
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The city of 21 million has already ordered three rounds of mass testing this week for the virus, with the third due to take place on Friday, and closed down some communities where cases were found.
A worker in a protective suit stands near tents at a makeshift nucleic acid testing site in Beijing. Reuters
As Beijing rolled out three rounds of mass testing this week across a number of districts, it locked down a number of residential compounds, office blocks and a university after infections were found. Some schools, entertainment venues and tourist sites were also shut.
Universal Studios in Beijing announced late on Wednesday it would require visitors to show negative test results before they could enter the theme park, starting on Friday.
On Thursday, it moved most students in the sprawling Chaoyang district to online learning, with exceptions for middle and high school students who are preparing to take crucial exams that could determine their academic futures.
Workers walk along a street after disinfecting amid the Covid-19 pandemic in Beijing on Thursday. AFP
Beijing announced 50 new cases on Thursday, two of them asymptomatic, bringing its total in the latest wave of infections to around 150. Students make up more than 30% of total cases, with clusters linked to six schools and two kindergartens in Chaoyang.
At least three other districts had already moved students online, and officials on Thursday announced rules requiring residents to remain inside two housing compounds in Chaoyang where cases have been detected.
Beijing has moved more swiftly than many Chinese cities to impose restrictions while case numbers remain low and the scale of the outbreak is still manageable.
The five-day break is typically one of China's busiest travel periods, but the country's worst Covid resurgence since early in the pandemic is likely to keep people home.
The domestic outbreak in China — where the disease first emerged last year -- had largely been brought under control but then a fresh batch of cases was detected in the capital last week.
Anyone who has been near the Xinfad market since May 30, along with their close contacts, will be quarantined at home for 14 days and tested at least twice, said city government official Zhang Ge.
The company said in a statement that it had declared "a state of emergency following an oil spill in the west of the country," noting that "there were no injuries resulting from the leak and that production operations were not affected."
Chinese President Xi Jinping met his "dear friend" Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday, seeking both to deepen economic ties with an ally he sees as a useful counterweight to the West and to promote Beijing's role as a potential peacemaker in Ukraine.
Al Neyadi said, “In space as on Earth... the day does not start without coffee… ☕️ This is how I started my first morning on board the International Space Station... I am very excited to meet you in direct contact tomorrow. I wish you a good day!”