Several dozen residents of Beijing have tested positive for the new coronavirus, confirming the emergence of a new outbreak of contamination in the Chinese capital, where emergency containment has been ordered in eleven neighborhoods.
These new cases raise fears of a resurgence of the epidemic in China, where COVID-19 had appeared last year, in the city of Wuhan (center), which the authorities had managed to control by strict quarantine measures.
These measures were lifted as the number of contamination declined and the majority of cases recorded in recent months were residents living abroad and tested positive on their return to China.
China has officially counted 4,634 deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which killed more than 422,000 people worldwide.
Xinfadi Market in Fengtai District in southern Beijing has been closed after being linked to most of the contamination.
Seven cases of COVID-19 contamination have been identified in the vicinity of this meat, fish and vegetable market, including six on Saturday, according to health authorities.
However, 45 other asymptomatic cases were detected after tests carried out on nearly 2,000 market workers on Friday, said Beijing health official Pang Xinghuo.
A first case of COVID-19 in Beijing in two months was announced on Thursday, a person who went to the Xinfadi market last week and had not left the city recently.
Among the six new cases announced on Saturday are three employees from Xinfadi market, one who went there to shop and three employees from a meat research center seven kilometers from the market. One of them went to the market last week.
The market has been closed by the authorities, as has a seafood market to which one of the contaminated people had visited, for disinfection and sample collection operations.
Hundreds of police were seen by AFP journalists near the two markets.
Fengtai district officials said on Saturday they would put in place a “wartime device” to deal with this new wave of contamination.
On Saturday morning, volunteers went door to door in several districts of Beijing, asking their interlocutors if they had recently visited the Xinfadi market.
The authorities have announced plans to hold large-scale tests for anyone who has been in “close contact” with the Xinfadi market since May 30.
Nine surrounding schools and kindergartens have been closed.
Beijing authorities on Friday postponed the students’ return to primary schools in the city and suspended all sporting events.
Visits to the Chinese capital by groups from other provinces were suspended on Saturday.
Xinfadi meat market president told Beijing News that the virus had been detected on boards used to cut the imported salmon.
In the aftermath, health officials ordered a city-wide inspection of fresh and frozen meat, poultry and fish, in supermarkets, bonded warehouses and food services.
Large supermarket chains, including Wumart and Carrefour, removed the salmon from their stalls overnight from Friday to Saturday in Beijing, while ensuring that the other foodstuffs were not affected, according to the daily Beijing Daily.
Several restaurants in Beijing were no longer offering salmon on their menu on Saturday, AFP journalists said.