Daily US Times: Authorities of China’s capital Beijing is rolling out mass testing and reintroducing strict lockdown measures after a fresh cluster of novel coronavirus cases emerged from the city’s largest wholesale food market, sparking fears of a resurgence of the deadly outbreak. New spikes has forced the authorities to impose wartime measures.
The capital city has recorded 36 new cases on Monday, and according to the National Health Commission, the total number now increased to 79 since a locally transmitted infection was reported on June 12 for the first time in nearly two months.
The cases are linked to Xinfadi market – one of the biggest wholesale markets in all of Asia- in the southwest of the city, which supplies most of the capital’s fresh fruit and vegetables. The market, which also sells seafood and meat, has been shut down since Saturday.
The outbreak has already spread to the provinces of Hebei and Liaoning, where a total of five new cases were found to be close contacts of patients in Beijing. as it is surging, local authorities trying to impose wartime measures to contain the virus
The new cluster in Beijing has sent shock waves across China. Beijing’s municipal government spokesman Xu Hejian on Sunday described it as “an extraordinary period”.
Chinese state media has repeatedly sid China’s effective steps in containing the virus as the number of deaths and infections surged abroad, contrasting its success with the failures of Western governments, especially the US.
Beijing previously considered among the country’s safest cities, but the sudden reemergence of the virus has raised the prospect of a second wave of infections and the possible reintroduction of the types of sweeping lockdowns that had previously brought much of the country to a halt and hammered the economy.
State news agency Xinhua reports that at a meeting of the State Council, China’s cabinet, late on Sunday, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said the risk of the latest outbreak spreading was “very high,” citing the market’s dense and highly mobile population. Mr Chunlan has prescribed “firm and decisive measures” to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Beijing.
On Sunday, Fengtai district, where the Xinfadi market is located, announced the launch of a “wartime mechanism” and the establishment of a command center to curb the spread of the virus.
Since last Thursday, two cases reported in Liaoning province, and three in neighbouring Hebei province have also been linked to the market. According to the National Health Commission’s update on Monday morning, there were 49 new cases in all of China on Sunday.
The market was quickly placed under lockdown and restrictions were imposed in 11 nearby neighbourhoods.
Ten more neighbourhoods around the market were restricted on Monday, said CGTN. No deliveries or visitors are allowed, but residents can come and go.
Nurseries and schools near the market were ordered to shut and the Global Times reported that re-opening of primary schools, originally scheduled for today, has now been postponed.
Authorities said some 10,000 market staff will be tested for the virus.
The chief epidemiologist of China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the virus strain found in Beijing did not resemble the type circulating across the rest of the country, suggesting it might have been brought in from elsewhere.