Fears of second coronavirus wave in China

Beijing, 15th June: Fears of a second coronavirus infection struck China’s capital city Beijing as a new cluster was discovered over the weekend.

According to reports, the new wave of the virus centered on massive seafood, meat and produce market in the southern Fengtai district of Beijing.

Beijing’s health authorities reported six confirmed cases on Saturday, 36 new cases on Sunday, and another 36 cases on Monday.

All were locally transmitted infections, breaking a months-long trend of China reporting mostly imported COVID-19 cases while the domestic transmission seemed to be largely under control.

It is a stark reminder that the virus can return after months of seemingly no local spread, even in one of the most tightly controlled cities in a country that has taken severe measures to halt transmission at home and from abroad.

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It is still unknown how the new patients became infected?

The Chinese authorities have zeroed in on the new cases’ shared links to the Xinfadi market, a sprawling wholesale market that supplies more than 70% of Beijing’s fruits and vegetables, according to local news reports. The market also includes wholesale sections dedicated to beef, lamb, and seafood.

Two of the newly infected people were employees at the China Meat Research Center, a food research institute in the same district. Most of the others were either workers at Xinfadi — drivers, vendors, delivery people — or close contacts of market workers.

The Police were sent to lockdown 11 communities around the market and close nine schools and kindergartens that had already resumed classes.

At least 139 close contacts of the newly infected people were put in quarantine.

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The authorities mobilized mass testing in the Fengtai district Saturday and required neighborhood workers to call residents one by one, screening for anyone who’d visited Xinfadi in recent days.

More than 10,000 market workers and close contacts will be tested, as will anyone in Beijing or neighboring Tianjin city and Hebei province who has visited Xinfadi or has had close contact with Xinfadi visitors since May 30.

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Tourism and sports events have been banned. A long-distance-bus station near Xinfadi has been closed. A plan to allow Beijing students in first through third grades to resume classes Monday was canceled.

Beijing had, however, relaxed the restrictions this month and started returning to normal life. People had started removing their masks while exercising outside. But now those restrictions are tightening again in Beijing.

The reappearance of a local COVID-19 cluster is a critical reminder that China and most of the world should not relax, as we still do not have herd immunity.

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