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Beijing’s “restraint” approach against COVID-19 a bellwether for handling future outbreaks: NYT

By Shu Hua (People's Daily Online)    10:24, June 24, 2020

(Screenshot from New York Times website)

As new cases emerge in China’s capital city of Beijing, China has adopted restraint measures to deal with COVID-19, which could serve as a bellwether for how China handles future outbreaks, US media reported.

According to an article published by New York Times on June 19, Beijing is now trying to stamp out the new outbreak with a more inclusive approach. “The city of Beijing has tested 1.1 million people in less than a week and has halted many flights, but has not imposed the citywide lockdowns used in provincial outbreaks.”

“Key to the government’s containment strategy is aggressive testing and contact tracing,” said the article, noting that the government set up testing stations at hospitals, park entrances, stadiums and community centers. Anyone going within blocks of the shuttered Xinfadi market receives an automated cellphone text message urging them to immediately take a test.

“If successful, the new approach being taken in Beijing could be a bellwether for how China may handle future outbreaks,” it said.

South China Morning Post also mentioned Beijing’s various prevention and control measures in its second phase of dealing with COVID-19, such as “installing 24-hour security checkpoints in local communities, closing schools and advising people to step up on social distancing”.

“[The response] is highly likely to be successful, given China’s demonstrated experience with such control measures,” Michael Baker, Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago in Wellington, told South China Morning Post.

According to Baker, some Asian countries came out of lockdown very cautiously, so they will not expect to see many cases as they reduce lockdowns. By contrast, in the US, several states coming out of lockdown are experiencing large rises in cases, as there was still a lot of the virus circulating that could start new chains of transmission.

Baker also noted that the risk of imported cases starting fresh outbreaks would remain the main threat to China, where a swift and vigorous response would be needed to contain the outbreak.

As of June 22, a total of 249 new confirmed cases had been recorded since Beijing reported its first local coronavirus case after more than 50 days with zero new locally transmitted cases. Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a press conference recently that Beijing’s epidemic situation is under control and the number of new cases is expected to drop in the coming days.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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