'Explosive' COVID Outbreak in Beijing Traced Back to Heaven Supermarket Bar

The outbreak highlights how difficult it would be for China to follow 'zero-COVID' policy.

2 min read
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Officials in China's Beijing are trying to contain a huge COVID-19 outbreak in the city that probably started from a 24-hour bar, popular for its low liquor prices, Reuters reported. The 200-case outbreak has been linked to the recently reopened Heaven Supermarket Bar.

Dine-in services resumed in Beijing on 6 June after over a month of COVID-19 curbs, with malls, gyms, and other venues closed, parts of public transport suspended, and millions urged to work from home.

As China shakes off a heavy blow after a two-month lockdown of its most populous city and commercial hub, Shanghai, there emerge new concerns of an outbreak in the world’s second largest economy.

With millions facing mandatory testing and a several thousand facing targeted lockdowns, the outbreak highlights how difficult it would be for China to successfully navigate its 'zero-COVID' policy.


‘Testing Everyday Is a Hassle, but Necessary’

A 21-year-old resident, surnamed Cao, who runs a convenience store in Beijing's largest district Chaoyang, where the bar cluster is located, said, "we have to test every day now. It's a bit of a hassle, but it's necessary," Reuters reported.

Chaoyang district's three-day mass testing spree among its 3.5 millions residents identified almost 10,000 persons who came into close contact of patrons from the bar with their residential buildings being put on lockdown.

Cao added that the virus has hurt their businesses hard, leading to a drop of almost 20-30 percent.

The report added that large metal barricades have been installed around many residential complexes and staffers wearing hazmat suits are spraying disinfectant in nearby areas.

Heaven Supermarket Bar, which is designed as a large self-serve liquor store with seating, reclaimed its popularity, appealing to a younger demographic, starved of socialising during hardened COVID-19 restrictions.

With close to 200 COVID-19 cases since 9 June, Reuters reported that the outbreak was described as “explosive” with infected people living or working in 14 of Beijing’s 16 districts.

While officials have not commented on the cause of the outbreak, state-backed Beijing Evening News, in a commentary piece on Monday, 13 June, noted that the cluster outbreak was due to loopholes and complacent epidemic prevention methods, Reuters reported.


"At a time when... normality in the city is being restored, the fall of Heaven Supermarket Bar means the hardship and effort of countless people have been in vain," the Beijing Evening News said.

Beijing reported 51 new cases on Sunday, 12 June, compared to 65 cases on Saturday, consistent with the national trend of falling cases. On the other hand, Shanghai, which recently completed mass testing for most of its populace, lifted its lockdown at the start of the month and reported 37 cases, up from 29.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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Topics:  China    Beijing   Shanghai 

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