An area of Beijing is on a “wartime footing” and the city has banned tourism and travel after a cluster of Covid-19 infections centred around a major food market sparked fears of a new wave of infection. Concern is growing of a second wave of the virus, which has infected more than 7.835+ million people worldwide and killed more than 430,000+, even in countries that appeared to have curbed its spread.
An official of Beijing’s southwestern Fengtai district told a press briefing yesterday that the district is in “wartime emergency mode.” Throat swabs from 45 out of 517 tested at the district’s Xinfadi wholesale food market tested positive for the virus, though none showed classic coronavirus symptoms.
A city spokesman told the briefing that all 6 patients confirmed in Beijing on Friday had visited the market, and the city will suspend sporting events and interprovincial tourism, effective immediately. Fengtai district has locked down 11 neighbourhoods in the vicinity of the market.
Authorities closed the market at 3am local time Friday, after 2 men who had recently visited the market were reported to be infected. It was not immediately clear how the men became infected.
“Preliminary judgment suggests these cases may have come into contact with a contaminated environment in the market, or were infected after being in contact with infected people. We cannot rule out subsequent cases in the future.”
Beijing authorities had already halted beef and mutton trading at the market, along with closures at other wholesale food markets around the city.
Reflecting concerns over the risk of further spread of the virus, many major supermarkets in Beijing removed salmon from their shelves after the virus was found on chopping boards used for imported salmon at Xinfadi market.
Authorities say more than 10,000 people at the market will take nucleic acid tests to detect Covid-19 infection. The city also says it has dropped plans to reopen schools Monday for students in grades 1-3 because of the new cases.
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