After Wuhan now Beijing: Covid-19 situation critical in China’s capital city

On Tuesday Beijing authorities described the city’s coronavirus outbreak as ‘extremely severe’.

The capital city of China witnessed 27 new cases where a new cluster has sparked a huge trace-and-test programme.

“The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe,” Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian warned at a press conference. 

“Right now we have to take strict measures to stop the spread of Covid-19” he added.

The infections have been traced back to the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food market in the capital. 

With the emergence of new cases China is now more than alarmed as after mass testings and strict lockdown earlier in the year it had somehow brought the outbreak under control.

The total confirmed cases of infection in Beijing is now 106.

Beijing’s testing capacity has been expanded to 90,000 a day, according to state news agency Xinhua. 30 communities have been put under lockdown in the city.

The World Health Organization’s emergencies director, Mike Ryan, said he expected Chinese authorities to publish the genetic sequencing of the virus in Beijing and supported their efforts so far. “A cluster like this is a concern and it needs to be investigated and controlled – and that is exactly what the Chinese authorities are doing,” he said.

State-run newspapers reported that the virus was discovered on chopping boards used for imported salmon at Beijing’s Xinfadi market amid worries about a second wave of the pandemic in China.

Ryan said in a briefing that he would be “reticent” to say that packaging needs to be tested as a result of the new infections. His comments echoed those of experts earlier on Monday who said the fish itself was unlikely to carry the disease and any link to salmon may have been the result of cross-contamination.

Chinese officials and state media were quick to defend the country amid fears that the outbreak marked a possible second wave.

“Control measures have been in place in communities, three officials accountable were dismissed,” said editor-in -chief of the Global Times, Hu Xijin. “US politicians will likely see a miracle that Beijing can have zero new cases in a month.”

On Monday, all indoor sport and entertainment venues in the city were closed. Coaches and players from the Beijing Super League football team, Guoan, have been tested and given a week off because their training camp was in the same district as the outbreak source, local media reported.

All hospitals in Beijing have been ordered to perform nucleic acid and antibody tests, a CT scan and a routine blood test on patients with a fever, Gao Xiaojun, spokesperson of Beijing’s health commission, told the media on Sunday.

They said 200,000 people had visited the Xinfadi market since May 30, and they were trying to trace and test all of them, including going door-to-door.

Over 8,000 workers from the market have been tested and sent to centralised quarantine facilities.

Shanghai authorities announced that all arrivals from medium– and high-risk areas have to undergo 14 days of quarantine.

More than 76,000 nearby residents were tested on Sunday across almost 300 testing points, authorities said, and strict measures have been put in place, including school closures, and transport suspensions, including ride-sharing and taxi services.

Since the first case in Wuhan, China has reported more than 84,000 cases and more than 4,600 people have died. Globally, more than 8 million cases have been recorded, and 436,000 deaths. The US is the worst-hit country, with more than two million cases.

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