Beijing Remains on High Alert as 27 New Covid-19 Cases Are Confirmed
Beijing has confirmed 27 new Covid-19 cases were identified on Monday, nine fewer than the previous day, as the Chinese capital remains on high alert for new outbreaks.
The municipal health commission said Tuesday in an online notice (link in Chinese) that it had also recorded two additional suspected cases and three asymptomatic infections.
The latest figures came after city officials shuttered two more food markets (link in Chinese) due to confirmed Covid-19 diagnoses among several recent visitors, all of whom had ties to the Xinfadi wholesale market where the outbreak is believed to have begun.
Beijing has logged more than 100 Covid-19 cases since Thursday, prior to which the 21 million-strong city had gone two months without any new infections. Authorities maintained strict response measures in nearly two dozen communities on Tuesday and continued to test thousands of people and products for the virus.
On Monday, Wu Zunyou, the top infectious diseases expert at the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV that the following three days would determine the course of the outbreak.
Speculating that most newly infected people were probably exposed to the virus in late May at the earliest, he said authorities had enacted “timely and effective” containment measures and may have won control of the outbreak before it could spread widely.
“Beijing … has not yet observed clear disease transmission within families or cross-infection with medical workers,” he said.
The limited number of cases meant Beijing did not yet need to deploy a citywide emergency response and could instead make targeted adjustments in certain areas, he said.
On Monday, Wuhan University virus expert Yang Zhanqiu told state-run newspaper Global Times that the high number of emerging cases linked to Xinfadi indicated the virus strain discovered at the site may be more infectious than the variant found at Wuhan’s Huanan seafood market where China’s initial epidemic is believed to have originated.
Health officials last week found traces of the virus on food and utensils at Xinfadi wholesale market in southwestern Beijing’s Fengtai district, including chopping boards used to slice imported salmon.
Since then, they have begun testing tens of thousands of environmental samples from markets and grocery stores across the capital to trace the pathogen’s spread.
On Tuesday, the government of western Xicheng district issued an online notice (link in Chinese) saying it had temporarily closed the Guangwai Tiantao Red Lotus Vegetable Market after a person there was diagnosed with Covid-19. The person had recently been to the Xinfadi market, which is 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) south of Guangwai.
The shutdown followed the closure on Monday of another market in the northwestern district of Haidian after three visitors there were confirmed to have contracted Covid-19. The Haidian market is 12.5 kilometers from Xinfadi.
Municipal officials said at a Tuesday press conference the city had conducted checks on nearly 200,000 people who visited Xinfadi since May 30. Officials had also disinfected some 276 farmers’ markets, closed 11 underground markets, and sanitized more than 33,000 food and beverage work units by 6 a.m. Tuesday, they said.
Hospitals across Beijing have sent medical staff to Ditan Hospital in the north of the city to treat the new Covid-19 patients, at least one of whom is in a critical condition, according to local news outlet Beijing Youth Daily.
The city government has imposed strict entry and exit restrictions on a number of residential communities, including 11 in Fengtai, according to a Monday statement (link in Chinese). One community in Fengtai is considered at high risk of an outbreak, while 22 other communities in the city are at medium risk.
Since China’s coronavirus epidemic started, Beijing has officially recorded a total of 526 cases and nine deaths, according to government data. Nationwide, nearly 85,000 people have contracted the disease and 4,645 have died, according to the National Health Commission.
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