New domestic cases in Beijing raise fears of new virus wave

Sunday, 14 Jun, 2020

China's National Health Commission said in a statement that five of the cases were locally transmitted, all based in the capital Beijing, while the six others were from travelers overseas.

Beijing reported its first COVID-19 case on Thursday after an interval of 56 days.

People were prevented from leaving their homes in 11 residential estates in south Beijing's Fengtai district after most of the cases were linked to the district's Xinfadi wholesale market, according to city officials.

A major wholesale market in the Chinese capital Beijing has been shut down after seven cases of the coronavirus were traced to the site.

Meanwhile, Beijing's Municipal Sports Competitions Administration Center has suspended holding sports events with immediate effect and until further notice.

No new deaths were reported. This resulted in the closure of all wholesale meat markets in the city.

Beijing's Yonghe temple and National Theatre also announced they would close from Saturday, and the city government said it had dropped plans to reopen schools on Monday for students in grades one through three because of the new cases. All the 46 positive cases were connected to local markets but none have symptoms.

But another 45 asymptomatic cases - which China counts separately - were detected after mass testing of almost 2,000 workers at the market on Friday, city health official Pang Xinghuo later told reporters. It was first reported at a seafood market in Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province, in December.

More than 1,900 workers at markets across the city have already been tested, according to the commission.

The Xinfadi market, which has 4,000 tenants and is in the Fengtai district, will be disinfected after workers tested positive and the virus was found in the environment, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Fengtai district officials announced Saturday that the district has established a "wartime mechanism" and "field command centre" to deal with the fresh wave.

More police stand guard to keep people from getting infected.

They have been placed under medical observation, Pang said.

Mass testing of hundreds of people working at the Xinfadi market uncovered an additional 45 asymptomatic cases.

Under China's standards for confirming coronavirus cases - which exclude asymptomatic individuals - this cluster of people won't be counted as confirmed until they begin displaying symptoms and come up positive on a separate nucleic acid test.

Before that, Beijing had gone 55 days in which the only new infections were citizens returning from other countries.