Authorities in the Chinese capital confirmed a new coronavirus case on Thursday for the first time in almost two months. Local authorities said the 52-year-old patient, identified as Mr. Tang from Beijing's Xicheng District, tested positive for COVID-19 after checking into a clinic Wednesday with a fever.
Tang said, according to officials, that he had not left Beijing or been in contact with anyone who had traveled overseas for at least two weeks. He has been transferred to a hospital for treatment and two family members who were in close contact with him have been put under medical observation.
Local authorities were carrying out an epidemiological investigation to track and manage any possible other contacts in a bid to cut off the transmission route.
The community where the Tang family live has been closed off, with temperature checks being enforced and workers disinfecting public places, according to Deputy Mayor of Xicheng District Miao Jianhong.
"Xicheng District will continue its epidemiological investigation and strengthen community controls, environmental sampling of key personnel in key locations, improving the ability of early detection and monitoring," Miao said at a news conference.
Coronavirus restrictions were lifted across Beijing on April 30, just ahead of the May Day holiday. The official emergency response level in the capital was lowered from Level I (the highest) to Level II at that time, scrapping a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers from low-risk areas of China.
Normalcy quickly returned to the sprawling city of more than 21 million people, with traffic returning and business reopened. Last Saturday the emergency response was lowered again to Level III.
Access to many public places still requires people to have their temperature checked and a barcode scanned via a mandatory tracking app on their phones (similar to Russia's) in Beijing, but some communities have already stopped carrying out temperature checks, and residents have become far more relaxed about social distancing and even the mask-free interactions.
China's anti-epidemic measures proved fairly successful once implemented, but experts warn there's still the risk of a possible second wave of coronavirus infections, and they call called for vigilance.
A recent report authored by Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Gao Fu also warned of a possible COVID-19 resurgence given that most of the Chinese public have not had the disease, and thus carry no immunity, and the pandemic is still severe in places like the U.S. and Latin America.
China, where the new coronavirus is believed to have emerged late last year, has confirmed a total of about 84,000 infections and just over 4,600 deaths from COVID-19.