China sounds alert over Beijing Covid-19 cases as Shanghai reports more deaths

Mass testing launched after 10 students tested positive in the Chinese capital's Chaoyang district

People stand in line for Covid-19 tests in Beijing on April 23, one day after 10 infections were detected in middle school students. AP Photo

China's capital Beijing was placed on alert after 10 middle school students tested positive for Covid-19, in what city officials said was an initial round of testing.

City officials suspended classes in the school for a week following the positive test results on Friday. Beijing also reported four other confirmed cases that day that were counted separately.

Mainland China reported 24,326 new community-transmitted infections on Saturday, with the vast majority of them asymptomatic cases in Shanghai, where enforcement of a strict “zero-Covid” strategy has drawn global attention.

China has doubled down on the approach even in face of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The zero-Covid policy, involving mass testing and strict lockdowns where people could not leave their homes, warded off many deaths and widespread outbreaks when faced with less transmissible variants.

Some question whether the strategy is worth the trade-offs. Many residents in Shanghai have struggled to get adequate food supplies, while some were also unable to get drugs or medical attention. Some elderly people died after an outbreak at a hospital led medical staff to be quarantined.

The country is now facing its worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic in the central city of Wuhan.

Local media reported that in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, the government ordered the suspension of in-person after-school activities and classes. The city government is now conducting a round of mass testing to look for more cases.

In Shanghai, city officials reported 12 new deaths on Saturday, all elderly patients with underlying illnesses.

Updated: April 25, 2022, 10:17 AM