Beijing designates 8 groups to test for COVID-19, signals shift to targeted control measures

By Xu Keyue Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/19 21:38:23

A field of blooming tulips is seen at the Beijing World Park in Beijing, April 16, 2020. (Photo: China News Service/Zhao Juan)

Beijing on Sunday said that eight groups of people would be tested for COVID-19 following the lifting of the requirement for companies to keep the number of  workers at less than half of normal levels. 

It is a signal that the capital city is changing its COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control strategy from stringent all-around measures to a targeted epidemic control strategy. This means being alert to high-risk groups but gradually easing measures on other residents as the epidemic has been basically brought under control in China, experts said. 

The eight groups are COVID-19 patients and their close contacts, patients at fever clinics, patients waiting to be hospitalized, people returned from overseas, people from Wuhan soon to finish quarantine, officials traveling back to Beijing after making from business trips, people checking in at hotels, and middle and senior high school students and teachers returning from other cities, city health commission spokesperson Gao Xiaojun said at Sunday's press conference.

The number of nucleic acid testing institutions in Beijing increased from 17 in early February to 50 now, which can meet the current needs, Gao said, noting the move aims to discover imported cases from overseas and prevent a second wave domestically. 

Requiring certain groups to take the test will help discover infections from high-risk groups, and treat them without delay, which will prevent any resurgence of COVID-19 in China, Zhou Zijun, a public health expert at Peking University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The request came after Beijing municipal authorities said Saturday that they would no longer require companies to keep on-site personnel to fewer than half the workforce, as the city is easing its anti-crowding rules implemented since the resumption of work.

The two policies signal that Beijing is moving from all-around measures to targeted epidemic prevention and control strategy as the pandemic is overall under control in China, Zhou said.

Beijing has reported zero imported or local cases for three consecutive days as of Saturday, according to data published by local health authority. 

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