Beijing reports 27 new virus cases as World Health Organization expresses 'concern'

Paola Ditto
Giugno 16, 2020

Chinese Center for Disease Control (CDC) Chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou (吳尊友) pointed out in a media interview that it would be hard to trace the source of the outbreak but that it was likely the infection had come from Europe based on genome sequencing results.

"We need to strengthen the bottom line thinking and make an all-out fight, taking epidemic prevention and control as the most important and urgent task at present... and taking the most determined, decisive and strict measures to contain the epidemic", the daily quoted a local high official in Beijing as saying.

Most of the cases have been linked to Beijing's Xinfadi wholesale food market; people lined up Tuesday for testing of anyone who had visited the market in the past two weeks or had come in contact with them.

Chinese state media has repeatedly touted China's effective measures in containing the virus as the number of infections and deaths surged overseas, contrasting its success with the failures of Western governments, especially the United States.

All high-risk people in Beijing, such as close contacts of confirmed cases, are not allowed to leave the city, state media reported on Tuesday, citing municipal officials. Concerned about contagion risks, many provinces have imposed quarantine requirements on visitors from Beijing.

China has so far recorded 84,378 cases with 4,638 deaths, while 79,489 patients have successfully recovered. She added that all cultural, entertainment and sports events are being canceled in the city, which has a population of more than 21.5 million people. The market is Beijing's largest wholesale food market, prompting inspections of fresh meat and seafood in the city and elsewhere in China. "A cluster like this is a concern and it needs to be investigated and controlled - and that is exactly what the Chinese authorities are doing", he said. His comments echoed those of experts earlier on Monday who said the fish itself was unlikely to carry the disease and any link to salmon may have been the result of cross-contamination.

Chinese officials and state media were quick to defend the country amid fears that the outbreak marked a possible second wave. "For starters, this isn't an ideal season for the virus to spread, compared with Wuhan's outbreak in the winter", said Yang Zhanqiu, the deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University in his study published in the Global Times. "US politicians will likely see a miracle that Beijing can have zero new cases in a month".

The Xinfadi market was shut down Saturday after at least 50 people tested positive for the virus.

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