Beijing will see a "cliff-like" drop in new cases in the current coronavirus outbreak by the end of this week with efforts to control the spread of infections in the Chinese capital underway, said an expert at the national health authority.
The city of over 20 million people reported its first case linked to a wholesale food centre in the southwest of Beijing in the latest wave on June 11. So far, 236 people have been infected in the worst outbreak in Beijing since COVID-19 was identified at a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan late last year.
Beijing reported on Monday nine new cases for June 21, sharply down from 22 a day earlier.
"If you control the source, and cut the chain of transmission, the number will have a cliff-like drop," Wu Hao, a disease control expert from the National Health Commission, told state television in an interview aired on Sunday night.
Millions in Beijing have had their daily lives upended by the resurgence of the disease over the past 11 days, with some fearing the city is headed for a lockdown.
Beijing is not headed for a "flood-like" lockdown, unlike early efforts in Wuhan when little was known about the virus, Wu said, adding lockdown procedures have been more targeted this time.
To control the spread of the virus, Beijing has so far designated four neighbourhoods as high-risk and 37 as medium-risk.
In medium-risk neighbourhoods, people can leave and enter, subject to temperature checks and registration, but apartment blocks with two confirmed cases or more are totally locked down. In high-risk neighbourhoods, an entire residential compound is locked down if there is even one infection in the community.
To identify carriers, Beijing has been conducting tests on what it deems as higher-risk groups such as restaurant workers and food and parcel couriers. Residents in some low-risk neighbourhoods have also been tested. As of June 20, about 2.3 million people have been tested.
"We've to live with the virus for the long term before a vaccine is available," said Bill Yuan, 28, an IT worker.
"There might be a few new infections all the time. If it (an outbreak) happens, we've to stay alert for a while and quarantine (the patients). Then go back to work when it's gone."