Covid 19 coronavirus China: Beijing in lockdown after food market cluster identified

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Dozens of people tested positive for the coronavirus in Beijing as parts of the city were locked down Saturday after the emergence of a new cluster linked to a wholesale food market.

Beijing, China's capital city, has entered "wartime emergency mode" after a spike in coronavirus cases that reportedly originated at a major food market in the city of more than 20 million people. Eleven residential neighborhoods in the city's Fengtai district now require temperature checks and are closed to outside visitors.

Another six locally transmitted cases were reported on Saturday.

Zeng emphasized that Beijing will not repeat what is happening in Wuhan or undergo a complete lockdown, as the city has implemented a slew of measures to contain the outbreak. Forty environmental samples collected at the Xinfadi market also tested positive.

Attention focused on the market after the reports of the first three cases on Thursday and Friday.

These measures had largely been lifted as the infection rate dropped, and the majority of cases reported in recent months were citizens living overseas who were tested as they returned home during the pandemic.

A member of security wearing a face mask cycles past the closed Xinfadi Market in Beijing
A member of security wearing a face mask cycles past the closed Xinfadi Market in Beijing

"We would like to warn everyone not to drop their guard even for a second in epidemic prevention control: we must be prepared for a prolonged fight with the virus", Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing municipal government, said at a news conference Saturday. This is the highest daily infection count for the Chinese capital since authorities started releasing data.

As of Friday, the overall confirmed cases in China had reached 83,075, including 74 patients who were still being treated, with no one in severe condition. Preliminarily findings suggest these cases may have been in contact with a polluted site in the market or infected people, said Pang.

Owing to the high number of cases, the aviation regulator said the Dhaka-Guangzhou route would be suspended for four weeks.

Beijing's largest seafood and produce market has been shuttered and surrounding neighbourhoods placed into lockdown after more than 50 people tested positive for the coronavirus, renewing concern that China's grip on the pandemic is not yet secure.

The case was Beijing's first in 55 days.

The new infections sparked a panic about salmon, which was pulled from supermarkets around the country after cutting boards used to prepare imported salmon were among surfaces that tested positive for the virus - although fish can not be infected by coronavirus. One of the employees visited the market last week. "If I were anxious, I wouldn't come here to buy meat".

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