Beijing tests millions for COVID-19, PepsiCo suspends ops after workers test positive

K J M Varma

Beijing, Jun 21 (PTI) Food and beverage giant PepsiCo has suspended operations in Beijing after some of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus in the Chinese capital, where the city officials are conducting COVID-19 tests on millions, especially employees of restaurants, food delivery services and market vendors.

China's National Health Commission (NHC) said on Sunday that it had reported 32 new COVID-19 cases in the country.

Of the domestically transmitted cases, 22 cases were detected in Beijing and three in neighbouring Hebei Province, the NHC said.

Also on Saturday, seven new asymptomatic cases were reported, it said, adding that 111 asymptomatic cases, including 58 from overseas, were still under medical observation.

Municipal Health Commission of Beijing, where the new cluster of cases were reported, said that from June 11 to 20, the capital had reported 227 confirmed domestically transmitted cases, all of whom were receiving treatment in hospitals.

There are 18 asymptomatic cases still under medical observation, and one imported case hospitalised in Beijing, the commission said.

The state-run People's Daily reported that PepsiCo Beijing has suspended operations after some of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

Till Saturday, Beijing had sampled a total of 2.29 million people for nucleic acid tests during its screening for COVID-19 cases between June 11 to 20, local officials said.

The is part of the efforts to test employees of all food-related services including restaurants and food delivery firms.

An Indian restaurant owner said that tests of all his employees had come as negative.

Beijing is the second Chinese city which resorted to mass testing. Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in December last year, tested almost all of its 11 million residents last month.

Beijing began efforts to contain coronavirus on war footing after the new clusters of cases emerged from May 30 from the city's main Xinfadi wholesale market.

Persons who did not have contact with people at Beijing's Xinfadi seafood market between May 30 and June 12 have a very low risk of being infected with COVID-19, city officials said.

All residents of 40 sealed-off communities in Beijing have been asked not to leave their homes to avoid cross-infection, Zhang Qiang, the state-run Global Times quoted an official with Beijing's COVID-19 prevention team as saying.

People under 14-day collective quarantine in Beijing for medical observation can only be released if their nucleic acid test results are negative at the end of the quarantine.

At present, a total of 474 sample collection sites and 2,083 sample booths have been set up at both urban and rural areas in the capital, with 7,472 workers having been mobilised to participate in the screening across the city, Zhang said.

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is also offering free tests to all drivers in Beijing. Didi said its drivers can also go to nine newly-opened epidemic prevention stations to have their vehicles disinfected, according to a report in the Beijing Daily.

All employees of public transport and taxi companies in Beijing's Daxing district are also being tested. Already, 1,471 bus and taxi drivers in the district have been tested, The Beijing News reported on Saturday.

As of Saturday, the overall confirmed cases in China had reached 83,378, including 331 patients who are still being treated, with 15 in severe condition.

Altogether, 78,413 people have been discharged after recovery and 4,634 people have died of the disease, the commission said, adding that adding no new deaths were reported on Saturday. PTI KJV MRJ MRJ