A district of Beijing has been sent into lockdown after a cluster of novel coronavirus infections centred around a major wholesale market sparked fears of a second wave of COVID-19.
Serious concern is growing of a second wave of the pandemic, which has infected more than 7.66 million people worldwide and killed more than 420,000, even in many countries that seemed to have curbed its spread like Portugal and Italy.
Chu Junwei, an official of Beijing’s southwestern Fengtai district said that the district was in “wartime emergency mode”.
It is understood that throat swabs from 45 people, out of 517 tested at the district’s Xinfadi wholesale market, had tested positive for the new coronavirus, though mysteriously, none of them showed symptoms of COVID-19.
A city spokesman told the briefing that all six COVID-19 patients confirmed in Beijing on Friday had visited the Xinfadi market.
Chu went on to say that one person at an agricultural market in the city’s northwestern Haidian district also tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 without showing symptoms, as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus, Fengtai district said it had locked down 11 neighbourhoods in the vicinity of the market.
Local authorities closed the Xinfadi market at after two men working at a meat research centre who had recently visited the market were reported to have been 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,” said Pang Xinghuo, an official at the Beijing Center for Disease Control.
Beef and mutton trading at the Xinfadi market has been halted, alongside closures at other wholesale markets around the city in a bid to prevent further infections.
Reflecting concerns over the risk of further spread of the virus, major supermarkets in Beijing removed salmon from their shelves overnight after the virus causing COVID-19 was discovered on chopping boards used for imported salmon at the market, the state-owned Beijing Youth Daily reported.
Beijing authorities said more than 10,000 people at the market will take nucleic acid tests to detect coronavirus infections. The city government also said it had dropped plans to reopen schools on Monday for students in grades one through three because of the new cases.
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