Beijing shuts market after coronavirus detected on salmon chopping board

Updated on Jun 15, 2020 07:25 PM IST
Thousands of nucleic acid tests were being carried out among traders and customers who visited the Xinfadi wholesale market and residents of the marked apartment complexes to check for more cases, health officials said on Saturday.
In this file photo, customers seen buying supplies at the Xinfadi wholesale market in Beijing.(REUTERS)
In this file photo, customers seen buying supplies at the Xinfadi wholesale market in Beijing.(REUTERS)
Hindustan Times, Beijing | BySutirtho Patranobis | Edited Ashutosh Tripathi

Beijing downed shutters on its largest wholesale market for vegetables and meat amid fears of a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the Chinese capital city. It has also locked down 11 residential communities in the vicinity.

At least 45 of the 517 samples so far collected from traders and employees at the Xinfadi market have tested positive for the virus.

Thousands of nucleic acid tests were being carried out among traders and customers who visited the Xinfadi wholesale market and residents of the marked apartment complexes to check for more cases, health officials said on Saturday.

ALSO WATCH | ‘Covid situation worsening’, says World Health Organisation

 

The chairman of the wholesale market told state-run Beijing News that the virus was detected on chopping boards used to handle imported salmon.

Major supermarket chains throughout the city stopped selling the fish as news of the new cases spread.

Beijing, a city of some 21 million, did not report a new case for 55 days before a 52-year-old man was diagnosed with Covid-19 earlier this week.

Within 48 hours, six new cases have been diagnosed, leading to nucleic acid tests on their contacts.

New Covid-19 cases reported on Thursday and Friday were found to have been to the market located in Fengtai district of Beijing, leading to the testings.

The market came under focus after it was found out that of the first three cases, two had been to the market, and the third worked with one of them at a meat research institute, Chinese media reports said.

An Associated Press report said that a sign outside the market read, “This building is urgently closed.”

Police and guards restricted entry to the parking area. Workers, many in red market jackets and caps, could be seen standing in line outdoors as buses pulled in, the report said.

All personnel in the market will receive nucleic acid tests, according to a statement jointly issued early Saturday by the market regulation bureau and the health commission of the district.

“Covering a total area of 112 hectares, the Xinfadi market has some 1,500 management personnel and more than 4,000 tenants,” official news agency, Xinhua, reported Saturday.

The Beijing education authority said in a statement Friday that classes for several of the lower primary school grades will not resume next Monday as scheduled.

Earlier this week, Beijing’s Community Party chief Cai Qi vowed to trace the source of the infections as quickly as possible, and cut the chain of transmission.

“This case (the first case of the 52-year-old man without a history of travel) has sounded an alarm for us. We must always maintain a wartime status and resolutely eliminate the possibility of a second outbreak,” the local government said in a statement.

Beijing’s Municipal Sports Competitions Administration Center issued a notice late on Friday that suspends holding sports events with immediate effect.

“Due to changes in the situation of epidemic prevention and control in Beijing, all kinds of sports events will be suspended in the city from now on to reduce the risks brought by people’s mobility and gathering, and ensure the health and safety of the people,” the notice said.

The national health commission said that five imported cases were reported elsewhere in China in the last 24 hours, bringing the daily total to 11 and the nationwide total of 83,075. The death toll remains at 4,634.

The coronavirus first emerged from a seafood and meat market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, leading to the city’s complete lockdown in weeks.

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