Beijing goes into ‘wartime mode’ and locks down after a spike in coronavirus circumstances emerge at a wholesale market

Customers wearing face masks buy pork meat at the Xinfadi wholesale market, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beijing, China February 19, 2020.

Tingshu Wang/Reuters

A district in Beijing discovered a cluster of novel coronavirus cases tied to a major wholesale market this week and said it was going into “wartime emergency mode.”

Out of 517 people tested at the Xinfadi wholesale market in the southwest district of Fengtai, 45 tested positive but were not showing symptoms, according to Beijing’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The spike in infections has prompted the capital to immediately ban inter-province tourism, shut schools, and suspend sports events.

Chinese authorities are on high alert to new clusters of the virus emerging at markets after a seafood market in Wuhan became the suspected epicenter of the global coronavirus outbreak.

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A district in Beijing said it was in “wartime emergency mode” after a cluster of novel coronavirus cases emerged at a major wholesale market.

The discovery came after a man who had visited the Xinfadi market in the southwest district of Fengtai on June 3, tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, according to Beijing’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chu Junwei, a Fengtai district official, said the area was in “wartime emergency mode” at a press briefing on Saturday. The district locked down 11 neighborhoods close to the market, which is the biggest meat and vegetable market in the capital city.

It prompted Beijing authorities to test and swab 1,940 workers in major supermarkets and other food markets in the Chinese capital.

Of 517 people tested at the district’s Xinfadi wholesale market, 45 tested positive but were not exhibiting any symptoms,¬†according to Reuters.¬†Another person who visited a market in the northwestern Haidian district also tested positive for COVID-19.

Environmental samples taken at the market also showed strains of the coronavirus on a chopping board used for imported salmon, the Washington Post reported.

The spike in infections also forced capital officials to ban inter-province tourism, shut some schools, and suspend sports events.

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Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing municipal government, said at the press briefing on Saturday: “We would like to warn everyone not to drop their guard even for a second in epidemic prevention control: we must be prepared for a prolonged fight with the virus.”

“We have to stay alert to the risks of imported cases and to the fact that epidemic control in our city is complicated and serious, and will be here for a long time,” he added.

Though China has long passed its coronavirus peak, authorities in the country fear a second wave of the virus.

The first coronavirus case was reported at a seafood market in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei province in December 2019. It has since infected more than 7.6 million people worldwide and caused more than 425,000 global deaths, according to John Hopkins University.


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