Beijing goes into ‘wartime’ mode after fresh outbreak

BEIJING: A Beijing district put itself on a “wartime” footing and the capital banned tourism and sports events on Saturday after a cluster of novel coronavirus infections centred around a major wholesale market sparked fears of a new wave of Covid-19.
As many as 45 people out of 517 tested with throat swabs at the Xinfadi market in the city’s Fengtai district had tested positive for the coronavirus, Chu Junwei, a district official, told a briefing. None of them were showing symptoms, he said, but added that 11 neighbourhoods in the vicinity of the market, which claims to be the largest agricultural wholesale market in Asia, had been locked down.
The 45 were in addition to an earlier announcement of seven people with symptoms who had visited or worked at the market. China does not include asymptomatic cases in its case count.
“In accordance with the principle of putting the safety of the masses and health first, we have adopted lockdown measures for the Xinfadi market and surrounding neighbourhoods,” Chu said. The district is in a “wartime emergency mode,” he added.
The closure of the market and new restrictions come as concerns grow about a second wave of the pandemic,. The entire Xinfadi market was shut down at 3am on Saturday (00.30 IST on Saturday), after two men working at a meat research centre who had recently visited the market were reported to have the virus. It was not immediately clear how they had been infected.
On Saturday, market entrances were blocked and police stood guard. Beijing authorities had earlier halted beef and mutton trading at the market and had closed other wholesale markets around the city. They plan for more than 10,000 people at the Xinfadi market to take nucleic acid tests to detect infections. According to the Xinfadi website, over 1,500 tonnes of seafood, 18,000 tonnes of vegetables and 20,000 tonnes of fruit are traded at the market daily.

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