Schools, cinemas and indoor entertainment venues have been closed in Beijing as the city goes back into partial lockdown in a bid to contain a cluster of locally-transmitted COVID-19 infections. Authorities have imposed restrictions on more than 20 neighborhoods close to the epicenter and banned those with links to infected people from leaving the city.
Source: Jose Fontano
Strict measures for entering shops and restaurants and social distancing inside will once again be enforced. Meanwhile, as the city is now branded as “medium risk”, locations as far afield as Shanghai and Yunnan have announced that they will require those coming from Beijing to submit to a 14-day quarantine.
The outbreak, which now numbers 106 cases, was first detected on Thursday at the Xinfadi wholesale food market in southwest Beijing. The sprawling market, said to be the biggest in Asia, sells thousands of tons of meat, fish and vegetables a day and has reportedly been visited by 200,000 people since the start of the month alone.
Xinfadi, which supplies much of Beijing’s shops and restaurants, has been closed for testing and decontamination. The head of the market and two government officials for the district have been fired.
More than 8,000 market workers have now been tested and placed under centralized quarantine, while more than 76,000 nearby residents were tested on Sunday. Schools in the area, having only recently reopened, have closed again, and transport services, such as ride sharing apps and taxis, have been suspended.
State media has reported that traces of COVID-19 were found on a market chopping board used to prepare imported salmon, prompting suggestions that the virus could have been brought in from overseas. Experts, however, say it is unlikely the fish was the source of the outbreak and more likely that this is a case of cross-contamination from a local source.
Never the less, Beijing supermarkets have been emptying their shelves of salmon and other fish since the news broke. Those living in the city can therefore expect the price of fish, and perhaps other vegetables and meat that usually come from the market, to rise.
Up until this latest outbreak, Beijing had reported no new cases of COVID-19 for 55 days.
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Keywords: Beijing returns to lockdown
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