Beijing steps up measures as new wave of Covid-19 cases emerges

After weeks with almost no new coronavirus infections, Chinese capital of Beijing has recorded dozens of new cases in recent days, all linked to a major wholesale food market, news wires reported. There had been almost no new cases in the city for almost two months until 12 June, and since then the total number has climbed to 51

According to the city’s health authority, contact tracing showed all the infected people had either worked or shopped inside Xinfadi, the largest food market in Asia, or had been in contact with someone who was there. The market was closed before dawn on Saturday and the district around the market was enclosed, Reuters reported.

The Beijing outbreak has already spread to the neighbouring northeastern province of Liaoning. According to the provincial health authority, the two new cases confirmed in Liaoning on Sunday were both people who had been in close contact with confirmed cases in Beijing. At least 10 Chinese cities, including Harbin and Dalian, have urged residents not to travel to the capital or to report to authorities if they have done so recently.

“Beijing will not turn into a second Wuhan, spreading the virus to many cities all over the country and needing a lockdown,” a government epidemic said on Sunday. Zeng Guang, former chief epidemiologist at Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and currently a senior expert with the National Health Commission, predicted that the outbreak will likely be controlled after the initial spike of a few days, according to the report by Health Times.

An epidemiologist with the Beijing government said on Sunday that a DNA sequencing of the virus showed the latest outbreak in the market could have come from Europe. “Our preliminary assessment is the virus came from overseas. We still can’t determine how it got here. It might’ve been on contaminated seafood or meat, or spread from the faeces of people inside the market,” state media quoted Yang Peng as saying.

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