Beijing inches closer to zero Covid-19 cases as curbs eased

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BEIJING (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Beijing inched closer to zero Covid-19 cases on Monday (June 6) as the capital rolled back virus restrictions.

The city reported two cases, down from six on Sunday and the lowest tally since April 22. It's a stark contrast to last month, when the capital was recording several dozen cases a day, stoking concern of a citywide lockdown.

Instead, mass-testing and targeted measures such as movement restrictions and work-from-home orders in the worst affected areas helped bring the outbreak under control.

The Universal Beijing Resort said on Tuesday it will reopen on June 15 after being closed more than a month to comply with China’s Covid-19 prevention measures, but it will cap the number of visitors at no more than 75 per cent of capacity.

The resort, which includes a retail district, two hotels and the Universal Studios theme park, was shut on May 1.

After it reopens, all visitors must show a negative PCR test taken within the past 72 hours and wear masks at all times, in line with city-wide measures. The resort will also test its employees daily and carry out regular disinfection, it added.

It will start selling tickets again on June 11 and the hotels will resume receiving guests on June 14, it added.

Life started to return to normal on Monday, with public transport resuming in most districts, allowing workers to return to the office. Entertainment facilities like cinemas opened in most areas, with capacity capped at 75 per cent, while restaurants were allowed to offer dining in. Residents are allowed to move about freely as long as they have a negative Covid-19 test result within the past 72 hours. The previous requirement was 48 hours.

China has trumpeted its Covid-zero approach, which included an unprecedented two-month lockdown of Shanghai and harsh restrictions elsewhere, for bringing its outbreak under better control. But its success has come at an enormous economic and social cost and hasn't totally eliminated infections, underscoring the challenges officials would face if they tried to pivot away from a strategy that puts cities at constant risk of repeatedly locking down and reopening.

In Shanghai, cases rose to 10 on Monday from eight on Sunday. Relief over last week's lifting of a gruelling lockdown has been curtailed somewhat by an uptick in cases outside government mandated quarantine, with a further three infections found yesterday. Residents living in compounds where new cases have been detected are being thrown back into lockdown.

The border city of Dandong, an important port for trade with North Korea, reported 32 cases for Monday. Partial travel restrictions were imposed in the area on Saturday because of rising cases.

Overall, mainland China reported 209 new coronavirus cases on Monday, of which 57 were symptomatic and 152 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said.

That compares with 171 new cases a day earlier – 31 symptomatic and 140 asymptomatic infections, which China counts separately.

There were no new deaths, keeping the nation’s fatalities unchanged at 5,226.

As of June 6, mainland China had confirmed 224,398 cases with symptoms.

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