Beijing clustered infections at high risk of spreading: vice premier

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/15 9:59:11

Photo: Li Hao/GT

The risk of the Beijing epidemic spreading is very high, warned Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who urged officials to adopt decisive measures to curb the epidemic.

At a meeting on Sunday, she said the clustered infection that was closely linked with Xinfadi Market, which is densely populated and highly mobile, has a very high risk of spreading. 

As of press time, Beijing has reported 79 cases connected to Xinfadi Market. Beijing's latest outbreak has extended to three provinces. Liaoning in Northeast China, Hebei in North China, and Sichuan in Southwest China have reported confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases connected to Beijing.

She urged officials to take resolute and decisive measures to effectively prevent the spread of the epidemic. Xinfadi Market and surrounding areas should be made a priority in conducting epidemiological investigations and carrying out in-depth and comprehensive source tracing, Sun noted. 

She stressed the necessity of detecting and controlling the source of infection in a more proactive manner.  

The National Health Commission also pointed out on Sunday that "the situation of epidemic prevention and control in Beijing is still very serious, and there are uncertainties in anti-epidemic prevention and control." 

Since Friday, health authorities in Beijing have been acting quickly in response to the emergency and are working against the clock to collect information on anyone in the city who had been to Xinfadi or had any contact with it since May 30. Anyone who has had contact is required to undergo a nucleic acid test.

NHC officials stressed that bottom-line thinking and sense of responsibility must be strengthened for the prevention of large epidemics and fighting big battles. 

The NHC has sent a group of experts to guide the capital city in fighting against the epidemic, and strengthen the analysis and judgment of the epidemic situation. Experts who previously fought the disease in Wuhan have also been deployed, especially those in the fields of epidemiological investigations and environmental elimination. 

Both "prevention" and "treatment" in fighting the epidemic are important, officials from the NHC said, noting that "decisive, powerful and effective measures" are needed to strangle the epidemic before it turns into a disaster.

The central government said it will support Beijing in enhancing its nucleic acid tests capabilities, which will cover all areas and key populations, and will then gradually expand the scope of tests. 

Beijing's Fengtai district on Sunday said it will conduct nucleic acid tests on more than 46,000 residents living in communities near the Xinfadi Market. 

Nationwide environmental sanitation will be rolled out, targeting food wholesale markets, restaurants and logistical centers. 

The vice premier also pointed out that due to the fact that no one has fully grasped how the virus mutates and spreads, and the overseas epidemic is still spreading, China shoulders an arduous mission in preventing and controlling the epidemic. 

"All districts and departments must not have any numb thoughts, war fatigue, count on luck, or take a relaxed mentality," Sun urged. 

In the wake of the clustered infections in Xinfadi Market, Zhou Yuqing, the deputy head of Fengtai district, Wang Hua, Party chief of Huaxiang subdistrict in Fegntai, and Zhang Yuelin, head of Xinfadi Market were removed from their posts.

The investigation team sent by the Beijing municipal government said the officials failed to carry out their responsibility, including doing a poor job in disinfection.  

An expert from the Beijing Center for Diseases Prevention and Control revealed Sunday that genome sequencing of the strain of the coronavirus which caused the new COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing shows it originated from Europe. 

The virus may have entered the market through contaminated seafood and meat imported from overseas which infected those who came into contact with it, or through people coming into the market who spread it through human secretions, experts believed. 


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