Beijing closed dozens of subway stations on Wednesday to restrict travel and combat COVID-19, even though the city of 21 million has only a few dozen daily cases.
China, which has been largely spared for two years, has faced the worst outbreak of the epidemic in recent weeks.
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Most of the cases are recorded in Shanghai where residents have been confined for more than a month. In the country’s economic capital, anyone who tests positive for the virus is sent to a quarantine center, with variable rest and often poor hygiene conditions.
Residents of the capital, where 51 new cases were reported on Wednesday, fear their city, in turn, will become trapped. Apartment complexes where pollution has been identified have been closed to prevent residents from leaving.
During the May Day holiday, during which the Chinese usually travel extensively, the tourist sites were almost deserted. Restaurants are prohibited from welcoming customers, and residents have begun stockpiling food and basic necessities for fear of confinement.
Beijing Metro announced the closure of about 40 stations on Wednesday – about 14% of the network – and many of them are near confined areas, according to its WeChat page.
The notice specifies “Entries and exits of stations will be closed…but (line) changes can be made within stations”.
“I think the city is already half closed,” said one Beijing resident, whose apartment complex was cordoned off by authorities, on condition of anonymity.
“There is no timetable for lifting this measure and more and more places are closed,” he told AFP.
Another resident, 35, said he shopped online to avoid contact with people in supermarkets.
“No one can really say how long the restrictions will last … but I understand the logic,” he said.
On Tuesday, all residents of Chaoyang District, the capital’s most populous district, began a new round of screening tests that are set to end on Thursday.
Meanwhile, nearly 5,000 new cases were reported in Shanghai, a number that has fallen as the city eases some measures.
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