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School reopenings delayed in Beijing after new COVID-19 outbreak

School reopenings delayed in Beijing after new COVID-19 outbreak

A street cleaner wearing a face mask rides a cart past metal barriers set up around a neighborhood that was locked down as part of COVID-19 controls in Beijing, Saturday, June 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

BEIJING: Most children in Beijing will not return to school next week as originally planned, Chinese officials said on Saturday (Jun 11), after an emerging COVID-19 outbreak prompted authorities to partly reverse a decision to resume in-person teaching.

China is the last major economy still committed to a zero-COVID strategy, stamping out new cases with a combination of targeted lockdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines.

But virus clusters in recent months have put that approach under strain. The megacity of Shanghai was forced into a gruelling months-long lockdown and in the capital Beijing, schools were shuttered and residents were ordered to work from home.

Authorities in Beijing eased many curbs earlier this week, but dozens of infections linked to a bar have led authorities to tighten some restrictions again.

Most primary and middle school students will "continue to study online at home" from Monday, city government spokesperson Xu Hejian said at a press briefing on Saturday.

The announcement partly walked back a previous decision to send younger pupils back to school in phases, starting next week.

About 115 cases have been linked to the bar cluster so far, municipal health official Liu Xiaofeng said at the briefing.

The new outbreak was "at a rapidly developing stage ... and at a relatively high risk of spreading", Liu said.

China recorded 138 domestic infections on Saturday, including 61 in Beijing and 16 in Shanghai, according to the National Health Commission.

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Source: AFP/gs


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