Confusion in Beijing over coronavirus spread

Amid rumors that a top hospital had been hit by the outbreak, most residents in the capital and areas suspected of having outbreaks were expected to stay home to help control the spread of the virus

by Chris Gill
Confusion in Beijing over coronavirus spread
Medics and officials in protective suits check people in Beijing living close to areas where the coronavirus outbreak had spread recently. Photo: AFP.

(ATF) Two articles on China’s Northern News network appeared – then disappeared – this morning (June 25). One said the new outbreak in the capital Beijing was basically under control, while the other said testing would be expanded.

Both stories mentioned Beijing 301 Hospital – it was thought the outbreak had spread to the hospital. But this may have been regarded as too sensitive for public release, because this is a military hospital used by the top leadership. 

It is difficult to know, because some of these words and names are now censored on social media in China following rumours that members of the Polit Bureau had caught the new and allegedly more infectious strain of Covid-19.

And with today being the Dragon Boat Festival, the government issued notices on WeChat yesterday, as they do on the eve of public holidays, in Liuzhou, Guangxi, Xuzhou, Jiangsu, Ganzhou, Jiangxi, and other areas on how far people can travel.

Because of the outbreak, people were told they should not leave their province, city or area in the interest of efforts to control the epidemic. In Guangzhou, most people decided to stay home – as some four million takeaways were delivered by 150,000 delivery drivers.

Covid alert system on people's phones 

Meanwhile, the Beijing Youth Daily outlined the coronavirus "traffic light system" installed on many people's phones, as explained by Pan Feng, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economics and Information Technology.

Pan said the infection alert system (app) adjusts the status of people based on relevant survey data. If an individual's centralised observation status turns to a red colour, it means that a person has been diagnosed as a suspected coronavirus case, following close contact with infected people. So, those people, who may be infected but not showing symptoms, need to undergo a check.

If the system goes yellow, people must self isolate at their home. That means a new infection site or cluster has been found through a community survey and those living nearby need to go under home observation management.

If users have any questions, they can contact community authorities. 

If a person's health status is displayed as a pop-up window, and they have entered or exited Beijing recently, they must click 'continue' to seek permission and verification to proceed with their itinerary.

Another situation involves people who have recently entered or left a medium- or high-risk area. People must be aware that false reporting and concealing where they have been will be punished, according to the law.

Given these concerns, it was expected that most residents in Beijing and other areas of possible outbreaks, would stay at home for the holiday.