China tightens controls as more virus cases are reported

China instituted new Covid-19 restrictions on Saturday, including urging the public not to leave Beijing and closing schools in Shanghai, while Hong Kong’s leader warned his coronavirus outbreak had not yet reached its peak.

In Beijing, where five new cases have been reported, part of the Yosemite residential complex in the northeastern district of Shunyi was closed after an infection was discovered there. Residents have been ordered to undergo testing.

The government said the infected person was a close contact of a previous case in the capital.

“Please don’t leave Beijing unless it is necessary,” spokesman for the capital’s Communist Party committee, Xu Hejian, was quoted by state television as saying.

People line up for Covid-19 tests in Changchun (Chinatopix via AP)

The government reported 588 new confirmed cases and no deaths in the 24 hours to midnight Friday. Its numbers are low compared to some countries, but authorities say they are ready to lock down communities if a case is discovered.

The city government of Shanghai, where 22 new cases were reported on Saturday, announced that schools would return to online education.

Public attractions, including the Oriental Pearl TV tower, have started requiring visitors to show negative virus test results, according to news reports.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has warned that the territory’s wave of infections may not have peaked despite strict controls on travel and business. It reported more than 27,600 new confirmed cases.

“Right now, we can’t comfortably say we’re past the peak,” she told a news conference. “We prefer to take a very cautious stance.”

The new cases in mainland China included 134 in northeast Jilin province, where the industrial city of Changchun, which has a population of nine million, was quarantined on Friday.

Changchun and the provincial capital of Jilin, also called Jilin, are “still at the peak of community transmission,” provincial party secretary Jing Junhai said in a statement.

On Saturday, the government announced that Mayor Wang Lu of Jilin had been replaced but gave no reason.

Yucheng in Shandong province was also locked down under China’s “zero tolerance” strategy, which aims to detect and isolate every case.