Health and Science

China's new Covid outbreak near Beijing still not close to a turning point, hospital director says

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Key Points
  • Beijing kicked off a city-wide vaccination campaign on Jan. 1, 2021, with more than 200 vaccine centers, in an attempt to make sure critical personnel receive immunization before the Lunar New Year.  
  • Hundreds of millions of people typically travel in the month around the holiday, which officially falls in mid-February this year.
Medical workers collect swab samples from residents at a community Covid-19 testing site in Qiaoxi district of Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province, Jan. 7, 2021.
Yang Shiyao | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

BEIJING – Beijing remains on alert for a resurgence of Covid-19 infections as the neighboring province of Hebei continues to report new cases every day.

Hebei began to report a rise in cases at the start of the year. In the last couple of weeks, the province has locked down its own capital and at least two other areas in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

"The turning point hasn't come yet (for Hebei)," Gao Yan, director of the infectious disease department of the People's Hospital affiliated with Peking University, told reporters Friday. That's according to a CNBC translation of her Mandarin-language remarks.

She said based on previous outbreaks in China, it usually takes about a month to reach a turning point.

Hebei province reported 54 new cases for Sunday, bringing the total number of current cases to 769. The majority are in the capital city of Shijiazhuang, about three-and-a-half hours' drive southwest of Beijing.

Targeted measures in Beijing, such as tracking down people in contact with Hebei cases, are sufficient for now, Gao said. She said the likelihood there's a repeat of the outbreak China saw last year is "very, very small."

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Covid-19 first emerged in late 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Authorities didn't lock down the city until more than a month later. More than 4,000 people died of the virus in China, according to Johns Hopkins University. The disease has killed more than 2 million worldwide.

Beijing kicked off a city-wide vaccination campaign on Jan. 1, 2021, with more than 200 vaccine centers, in an attempt to make sure critical personnel receive immunization before the Lunar New Year.  Hundreds of millions of people typically travel in the month around the holiday, which officially falls in mid-February this year.

In about two weeks, the capital city has administered 1.5 million vaccine doses, according to official figures as of 5 p.m. local time on Thursday. At least for a major vaccination site in Chaoyang District — where major foreign businesses and embassies are located — the vaccines came from state-owned company Sinopharm.