Beijing reports new Covid-19 cases linked to food market

Staff at the market

Thousands who work at the market are now being tested

Beijing is in "wartime emergency mode" after a new cluster of coronavirus cases was detected at one of the continent's biggest markets in the southwestern corner of the city, officials said.

China reported its highest daily total of new coronavirus cases in two months on Sunday and infections in South Korea also rose, showing how the disease can come back as curbs on business and travel are lifted. Fengtai district officials said a "wartime mechanism" and "field command center" has been established to deal with this fresh wave.

These were the details of the news China reports 57 new virus cases, highest daily count since April for this day. They were the first confirmed cases in 50 days in the city of 20 million people.

Li reported from Beijing.

By midday Saturday, Beijing authorities said they had collected more than 5,000 environmental samples from major wholesale markets around the city, including 1,901 swabs from the floors, tables, products, door handles, trash cans and other surfaces at Xinfadi.

The remaining two infections at the local level, apart from the 36 in the Chinese capital, were detected in the northeastern province of Liaoning, where an infection related to the Beijing outbreak was announced on Saturday. None of the 46 who tested positive have shown symptoms.

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Several of the new cases were linked to the Xinfadi wholesale market, and more cases connected with the market emerged yesterday after wider testing.

"The epidemic was already nearly over, and then suddenly there's one or two more new hot spots", said Jin Zheng, a woman in her 20s walking in central Beijing.

This story corrects that six of the seven people with symptoms had visited or worked at the market, not all seven. Under rules announced June 4, a route will be suspended for one week if five passengers on a flight test positive and four weeks if the number rises to 10. Around 140 close contacts of the newly identified cases have been put under quarantine.

AFP reporters saw hundreds of police officers, many wearing masks and gloves, and dozens of paramilitary police deployed at the market. But the new cases have prompted Beijing officials to delay the return of students to primary schools, and suspend all sporting events and group dining.

Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing municipal government, said at the press briefing on Saturday: "We would like to warn everyone not to drop their guard even for a second in epidemic prevention control: we must be prepared for a prolonged fight with the virus". "If I were anxious, I wouldn't come here to buy meat".

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