Latest virus outbreak linked to Beijing market 'basically contained'

By Wang Qi and Lu Wenao Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/24 16:10:37 Last Updated: 2020/6/24 23:22:37

Xinfadi Photo:Li Hao/GT

Beijing's latest COVID-19 outbreak linked to the Xinfadi wholesale market has been basically contained, a spokesperson of the Beijing municipal government announced on Wednesday. 

Xu Hejian, spokesperson of the Beijing municipal government, made the announcement during a press briefing on Wednesday, noting that the situation in Beijing is still complex and cannot be taken lightly as cluster infections in families, companies and communities have been detected. 

Beijing reported seven new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total in the city to 256 since the outbreak occurred at the Xinfadi wholesale market on June 11.

Lei Haichao, director of Beijing's Health Commission, said that 253 out of all 256 cases in Beijing are linked to the outbreak at Xinfadi, and the other three are still under investigation.

If the Xinfadi market is seen as the outbreak center, 160 of the 256 cases are clustered within 5 kilometers of the center, accounting for 63 percent of all cases. The number of cases within 15 kilometers is 238, or 93 percent of all cases.

"It is possible that patients were exposed to the same source of infection," Lei said. "The latest outbreak developed very fast. It only took five days to get from the first case to the 100th case."

Wednesday marks the first day since June 12 that no new community in Beijing has been labeled as a middle or high-risk region.

"Judging from the growth curve of cases and close contacts, Beijing has indeed controlled the outbreak," Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

"But considering the strong infectivity of the virus and that the majority of the cases are showing minor symptoms, Beijing's strict prevention measures cannot be relaxed."

Wang said it is not easy to find all virus carriers in a short time due to the prevalence of mild cases, noting that domestic and international travel also remains a risk. 

The virus will be with us for a long time. If Beijing had reacted more slowly, it might have been a second Wuhan. Therefore, both Beijing's government and residents need to keep a high level of vigilance, reporting any possible 

resurgence as soon as possible, said Wang. 

According to Lei, the earliest death from Beijing's latest outbreak was on June 4, with a peak reached on June 13. Around 51 percent of confirmed cases were detected from June 9-15.

Lei added that 137 were detected at community level, 81 through outpatient and emergency departments, and 38 through close contact tracing.

Xu said on Wednesday that Beijing will further expand its testing scale and escalate testing efficiency, aiming to screen as many asymptomatic carriers as possible. Testing should be conducted for all residents in medium and high-risk regions, especially for people working in restaurants as well as logistics and delivery companies.

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