Beijing in 'critical situation' with over 100 cluster virus infections
Updated 23:14, 16-Jun-2020
People line up to get tested for coronavirus at the Guang'an Sport Center following an unexpected spike of COVID-19 cases in Beijing, China, June 15, 2020. /Reuters

People line up to get tested for coronavirus at the Guang'an Sport Center following an unexpected spike of COVID-19 cases in Beijing, China, June 15, 2020. /Reuters

Beijing is in a critical situation with coronavirus prevention following the fresh cluster of infections linked to its Xinfadi wholesale market, said Cai Qi, secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), on Monday.

While hosting a meeting with officials from the Chinese capital and National Health Commission, Cai said epidemic prevention and control has to be the top priority and the most urgent task for the city.

Beijing has ordered the inspection of farm produce markets, vegetable markets, dining venues and canteens of government organs on their virus prevention measures and the disinfection of the locations, Cai said.

He emphasized the importance of thorough nucleic acid testing for all individuals who had been to the Xinfadi market and stall owners at markets across the city.

Beijing will also restrict those with a higher risk of contracting the virus from leaving the city, and inform destination cities if such cases have already occurred, according to Cai.

The city will guarantee market supplies to meet residents' daily needs and maintain the stability of prices, he said. Business owners who engage in price gouging will be penalized.

Beijing reported 27 new domestically transmitted cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of new cases since Thursday to 106. 

The new COVID-19 cases consist of 17 males and 10 females and were all connected to Xinfadi wholesale market, said Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention at a press conference.

Beijing upgrades COVID-19 emergency response to second level

Beijing has raised its emergency response to the novel coronavirus epidemic from the third to second level, said Chen Bei, deputy secretary-general of the Beijing municipal government, at the press conference. 

As of Tuesday, the source of the new cluster remains unknown. Earlier, the head of the market said that coronavirus was detected on chopping boards used to handle imported salmon. However, another official said there is no evidence salmon was the host or intermediate host of the novel coronavirus. 

The epidemic was initially determined to be caused by human-to-human transmission and contamination of goods, the official noted. 

In addition, local authorities announced Tuesday that all students will resume online lessons in Beijing rather than attend school. Meanwhile, working from home is also encouraged. 

New case detected at a vegetable market in Xicheng District

The city detected one COVID-19 case at a vegetable market in Xicheng District on Sunday. The district has since implemented lockdown measures at the affected location. 

A total of 62 individuals linked to the market were put under quarantine and tested for coronavirus. All results have come back negative. 

In a press briefing on Tuesday, city officials asked all those who visited the vegetable market since May 30 to report to their communities and self-quarantine at home. 

Over 30,000 catering businesses disinfected

As of Tuesday morning, the city has disinfected 276 farm produce markets and 33,173 catering businesses. A total of 11 underground and semi-underground markets have also been shuttered. 

Officials expect to complete disinfection for all catering service units in the city by the end of the day Tuesday.