China's capital Beijing on Wednesday shut down several metro stations besides schools, restaurants and businesses and ordered daily COVID-19 testing of its 21 million people as it ramped up measures to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant which has brought the financial hub Shanghai to halt for over a month.
Beijing reported 53 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total to over 500 cases as the capital continues enforcing strict anti-virus measures and postponed school reopening for a week as a precautionary measure.
The capital city on Wednesday closed over 40 subway stations, about 10 per cent of the total, and 158 bus routes.
Most of the suspended stations and services are in the Chaoyang district, the prominent area in the city housing the top leaders as well as diplomatic enclaves.
All kindergartens, primary and middle schools and secondary vocational schools in Beijing have postponed resuming classes for a week until May 11, official media reported.
When students will return to schools would be based on the COVID-19 situation, Beijing authorities said.
Those who really need to leave Beijing must present a nucleic acid test negative certificate taken within 48 hours and a green health code before boarding a plane or a train.
Airports and railway stations will strengthen inspection, and spot checks will also be carried out on those leaving Beijing by road. Anyone who is unable to present a green health code will not be allowed to enter or leave Beijing, officials confirmed at the press conference, state-run Global Times reported.
Meanwhile, the city began everyday testing of all the people for the next three days shifting from testing to alternative days. Millions of people lined up at the designated points to undergo the tests.
The city, meanwhile, wore a deserted look with people staying indoors as the four-day May Day holidays were set to end on Wednesday.
In Shanghai which is under lockdown for over a month, the number of COVID infections fell for the 13th consecutive day. The city reported 4,982 cases on Wednesday from tests conducted in the previous 24 hours, bringing the number of confirmed cases to over 580,000 -- in stark contrast to just over 500 cases in Beijing, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
Despite falling case numbers in both of Shanghai's quarantine zones and the low-risk unguarded zones, there are no signs from officials that the city's lockdown will end any time soon.
Residents have become increasingly frustrated and anxious. Gaining access to basic necessities has become a daily struggle and families have been separated to isolate at quarantine centres, the Post report said.
However, there is some hope in the Shanghai business community after the municipal government said on Tuesday night it would allow more manufacturers to resume production if they could obey virus-control rules.
The announcement raises optimism that major supply-chain disturbances plaguing the industry since the lockdowns began may soon improve, the report said.