Beijing -- After officials declared victory over the virus, two of China's largest cities, Beijing and Shanghai, were granted a month of reprieve from severe COVID-19 restrictions. Both megacities were still racing to stop the spread of highly transmissible Omicron virus subvariants.
A cluster of BA.5.2 subvariant infections was reported in the capital. Officials believe that it started at a boutique hotel close to Beijing's famous Great Wall. The local government did not take any chances and confirmed only a dozen cases.
According to a official from the Municipal Health Commission, Beijing now requires all residents to present proof of vaccination when they enter large public spaces, such as museums and theaters. To be allowed into community facilities, seniors must also show proof of vaccination.
To be eligible to enter public venues, everyone must show a positive COVID test within 72 hours. This restriction forces all residents of the capital to undergo PCR testing every three days.
China's ruling Communist Party is committed to keeping the subvariant, which is highly contagious, under control. This is partly because it doesn't want to disrupt the once-in a decade power transition that is scheduled to take place in Beijing in the fall. However, an exact date has yet to be announced.
In Shanghai's financial capital, 32 positive cases were reported. These cases are linked to a karaoke venue in the Putuo district. Officials in Shanghai shut down all karaoke venues -- there are many -- on Wednesday.
Shanghai has intensified its mass testing program. Residents from 12 of 16 city districts were instructed to take two PCR tests in a three-day period that ended Thursday.