Fears of 'second coronavirus wave' following 50 new cases in Beijing

13 June 2020, 14:37

Paramilitary police officers march as police stand guard at the entrance to the closed Xinfadi market in Beijing
Paramilitary police officers march as police stand guard at the entrance to the closed Xinfadi market in Beijing. Picture: Getty

By Matt Drake

A district of China's capital Beijing has banned tourism after a cluster of coronavirus infections emerged around a wholesale market.

The largest wholesale food market in Beijing was closed behind police guard and the surrounding neighbourhood locked down on Saturday after more than 50 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the Chinese capital.

The outbreak came more than 50 days after the last reported local case in the city of 20 million people.

Authorities locked down 11 residential communities near the Xinfadi market, and police installed fencing to seal off a road leading to a group of apartment buildings.

Some concern is growing that the cases could signal a second wave of the pandemic.

The virus was first reported in December, 2019, at a seafood market in Wuhan, which is the capital of Hubei province.

Beijing officials said 45 workers at the market tested positive, though they showed no symptoms.

That was in addition to seven earlier cases of people with symptoms who had visited or worked at the market.

Inspectors took 1,901 samples from meat, surfaces, dustbins, handles and other objects at the market, and 40 tested positive, the officials said.

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An official of Beijing's southwestern Fengtai district, Chu Junwei, said the district was in a "wartime emergency mode".

The capital will suspend sports events and interprovincial tourism effective immediately, Chu added.

Pang Xinghuo, an official at the Beijing Centre for Disease Control, said: "Preliminary judgment suggests these cases may have come into contact with a contaminated environment in the market, or were infected after being in contact with infected people.

"We cannot rule out subsequent cases in the future."