Health
New outbreak in Beijing brings coronavirus restrictions back to China

By Fabian Sutch-Daggett - World Healthcare Journal

Following more than eight weeks of no community-transmitted cases, Chinese officials acknowledged a cluster of new cases linked to the Xinfadi market in Beijing.

The Chinese National Health Commission reported one new Covid-19 case on Thursday, six on Friday, 36 on Saturday and confirmed cases have now reached 79 as of Monday morning.

Most of these new cases are directly linked to the enormous food market on the outskirts of the nation’s capital. Three other provinces have reported new cases, which they believe to be linked to Beijing.

The market, as well as more than 21 neighbourhoods, have been placed into immediate lockdown, according to CGTN. The opening of primary schools, originally scheduled to restart today, has also been postponed for the foreseeable future.

Officials have stated that more than 10,000 people will be tested for the virus, and the entirety of the market  - which spans more than 1,120,000 square meters - will be disinfected.

Health authorities have also instructed anyone who has visited the market recently to get tested for the virus and stay at home. They also ordered the removal of all salmon products from supermarkets after the virus was found on a chopping board used for the fish.

The Xinfadi market itself is the largest in all Asia, and one of the largest in the world. It supplies more than 90 per cent of all agricultural produce in Beijing and has a constant flow of people through its stalls. Even during lockdown, more than 15,000 people were estimated to visit the market every day.

The general manager of the market itself, as well as two local officials, have been fired for not doing enough to prevent the outbreak.

China’s Vice Premier, Sun Chunlan, has also advised “the strictest epidemiological investigations” should be undertaken within the market, and “thorough contact tracing” should be used to stem the outbreak in the region. One official also stated that the capital is now in “wartime emergency mode”.

Sun further advised that testing within the capital and the nation itself should be “boosted” in order to discover more asymptomatic cases and improve tracing of those who do not realise they may have been exposed.

“Our preliminary assessment is the virus came from overseas. We still can’t determine how it got here. It might have been on contaminated seafood or meat, or spread from the faeces of people inside the market,” says Yang Peng, an epidemiologist at the Beijing Centre for Diseases Prevention and Control.


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