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CHINA COVID-19: Beijing Kicks Off Mass Testing After Spike In Covid Cases

 

According to BBC reports, the Chinese capital Beijing has kicked off mass testing for millions of residents after a spike in Covid cases.

The Chaoyang district reported 26 cases over the weekend – the highest number so far in Beijing’s latest surge.

Long queues outside supermarkets and shops were seen despite government assurances there is sufficient food.

It comes amid fears that Beijing could face a similar situation to Shanghai, which has seen some 25 million people shut in their homes for weeks.

Read Also: Shanghai: China reports three dead in latest Covid outbreak 

‘All the meat was snatched up’
All 3.5 million residents in Chaoyang, Beijing’s most populous district, will undergo three rounds of mass testing, according to a notice by the city’s disease prevention team.

People in Chaoyang queueing up to get tested

The news prompted residents to rush to stock up essential supplies, with images circulating on local media showing supermarket shelves emptied of goods and snaking queues at check-out counters.

Beijing’s major supermarkets also extended their opening hours to accommodate the spike in demand.

Long queues at a supermarket in Beijing

“Never thought I would go to the market early in the morning….when I got there, all the eggs and prawns were gone and all the meat was snatched up,” said one Weibo user in Shanghai, before adding they managed to get some vegetables.

Another Weibo user in Shanghai said: “Seeing people in Beijing rush to buy food is both funny and distressing… it’s like looking at what my own life was like just last month.”

State-media news outlet The Global Times said that Beijing’s fresh food companies have been ordered to increase the supply of groceries like meat, poultry eggs and vegetables.

They also quoted health experts as saying that the results of the mass testing would indicate whether there is a need to escalate measures further, such as locking down several areas.

Separately, Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, told state-media outlet China Daily that the number of cases in Beijing is expected to increase in the following days.

Censors try to block viral Shanghai lockdown video
Shanghai escalates Covid lockdown restrictions
The latest outbreak in Shanghai, first detected in late March, has seen more than 400,000 cases recorded so far and 138 deaths.

Some of the measures Chinese authorities have enforced include placing electronic door alarms to prevent those infected from leaving and forcibly evacuating people from their homes to carry out disinfection procedures.

Some in locked-down areas of Shanghai say they have been struggling to access food supplies, and forced to wait for government drop-offs of vegetables, meat and eggs.

Green barricades have also been erected overnight in parts of Shanghai without prior warning, effectively preventing residents from leaving their homes.

In contrast to many other countries, China is pursuing a zero-Covid strategy with the aim of eradicating the virus from the country completely.

While officials managed to keep infection levels relatively low at the beginning of the pandemic, later lockdowns have struggled to contain recent, more transmissible variants of the virus.

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Ukraine conflict: Putin Tells Russians Security Is Non-Negotiable

 

President Putin’s video message took place on a public holiday to mark Defend the Fatherland Day
President Vladimir Putin has insisted that Russia’s interests and security are non-negotiable, amid reports of more Russian troops moving closer towards Ukraine’s borders.

Mr Putin gave a video address, hours after US President Joe Biden warned of “the beginning of a Russian invasion”.

Russia was always “open for direct and honest dialogue”, Mr Putin said, but he had full confidence in the military.

The West has announced a range of sanctions on Russian interests.

“We’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing,” Mr Biden said, after Russia’s upper house of parliament authorised the president to send troops into two parts of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

Mr Putin declared on Monday night that Russia had recognised the independence of the so-called people’s republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, tearing up a peace accord with Ukraine.

Read Also: Ukraine requested a meeting with Russia within the next 48hours to discuss build-up 

Ukraine’s foreign ministry urged all its citizens to leave Russia, warning that the “escalating Russia aggression against Ukraine” could limit consular assistance. The military in Kyiv also announced it was immediately calling up all reservists aged 18 to 60, both officers and privates for a maximum of a year.

Pope Francis said the threat of war in Ukraine had caused “great pain in my heart”.

President Putin’s claim that the military would go to “maintain peace” was derided as nonsense by the West. Rejecting his spurious claim of genocide in eastern Ukraine, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was concerned about “the perversion of the concept of peacekeeping”.

Mr Biden said “to put it simply, Russia just announced that it is carving out a big chunk of Ukraine”.

Despite Mr Putin’s insistence that he was still open to diplomacy, France’s foreign minister and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken both cancelled planned meetings with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.

It is not yet clear if any Russian troops have yet crossed the border into Ukraine. However, US satellite imagery has highlighted several new troop and equipment deployments in western Russia, and more than 100 vehicles at an airfield in Belarus near Ukraine’s border.

Mr Biden said he was announcing an initial tranche of measures, targeting high-ranking Russia’s “elites” and its foreign debt, to prevent it raising state financing from Western financial institutions.

The European Union and UK also announced a wave of sanctions against Russian banks and individuals on Tuesday:

Germany also halted a major joint infrastructure project with Russia, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, despite Europe’s reliance on Russian gas supplies and the fact that the €10bn (£8.3bn) project is ready to open supply lines.

All 27 EU member states agreed a range of anti-Russia measures, targeting all 351 members of Russia’s lower house who voted to recognise the two breakaway regions of Ukraine as independent states. The EU’s response also targets 27 individuals and entities involved in the decision.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that five banks have had their assets frozen in Britain, along with three Russian billionaires who will be hit with UK travel bans. Canada, Japan and Australia later confirmed similar measures.

Ukraine’s parliament voted on Wednesday to impose sanctions on 351 Russian individuals.
European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said it was a mistake to exclude the Russian leader. “Vladimir Putin should be first on the list,” she told Czech daily Hospodarske Noviny.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK would use “every lever at our disposal” to stop Russia’s threats against Ukraine. Responding to criticism from some MPs that the UK government had not gone far enough Ms Truss wrote in The Times that G7 allies had agreed on further sanctions and “nothing is off the table”.

Map showing the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatist-held areas within those regions.
1px transparent line.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he will consider cutting off diplomatic ties with Russia altogether over the crisis.

Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine have seized large swathes of territory since fierce fighting broke out in 2014. An estimated 14,000 people – including many civilians – have since died.

Rebel leaders called last week for the evacuation of women, children and the elderly for Russia, citing unfounded claims of an imminent Ukrainian offensive. Officials in Moscow said on Wednesday that 96,000 people had arrived so far from Ukraine’s separatist-run areas

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