(News-Europe Fonia W.published on Mon 15 Jun 2020 06.20 ) On Monday, Authorities in Beijing announced 49 new cases, 36 of which were linked to the Xinfadi seafood supermarket in Beijing’s southern Fengtai district. The wholesale market was closed on Saturday after it was identified as being at the centre of a new cluster of cases.
“The risk of the epidemic spreading is very high, so we should take resolute and decisive measures,” Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing city government, said at a press briefing on Monday. On Sunday he said Beijing had entered “an extraordinary period”.
As of Monday, atotal of 21 residential communities, housing about 90,000 people, near Xinfadi as well as a second seafood market in Haidian district, where cases linked to Xinfadi were also confirmed, had been closed off. Residents have been ordered to quarantine at home and undergo tests for the virus.
Beijing, which had previously gone 55 days in which the only new infections were citizens returning from other countries, has reported a total of 79 cases in the past four days. The first case in the new outbreak was discovered on Thursday after a 52-year old man surnamed Tang was confirmed to have the virus. On Friday, authorities reported another six cases – all of them, including Tang, linked to the Xinfadi market.
Authorities fear the virus spreading from Beijing. Several Chinese cities have urged their residents not to travel to the capital. The city of Daqing, in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang, has started to require travellers from Beijing to undergo 21 days of isolation.
Two cases in Liaoning province and three in the surrounding Hebei province are believed to be connected to those in Beijing. On Monday, Sichuan province reported one suspected case. A flight from Guangzhou in southern China to Dhaka, Bangladesh was cancelled after 17 passengers tested positive for the virus.
Residential compounds in Beijing have reinstated security checks and made loudspeaker announcements, phone calls and house visits asking all residents who have visited the Xinfadi market to report their recent travel. Schools have been suspended and temperature checks at malls and public places have resumed, after weeks of relaxed measures.
In an afternoon press conference, Xu Ying of the Beijing municipal party committee organisation department, said 7,200 neighbourhoods and 100,000 community workers had “immediately entered the battlefield to fight the epidemic”.
The new cases in Beijing are especially alarming given the strict travel restrictions and quarantine measures the city imposed to prevent cases from other parts of the country spreading to the capital. Beijing had begun to return to normal with residents returning to work and going out again.
On Monday, two officials in Fengtai district, where the Xinfadi market is located, were dismissed while the manager of the market was also fired, according to state media for “failing” to implement virus prevention measures.
On Sunday, Beijing ordered all companies to vet their employees and require any who visited the Xinfadi market or had contact with those at the market to quarantine at home for 14 days. Authorities said on Sunday that more than 70,000 people were tested – 59 of whom tested positive for the virus.