As people were finally starting to get back to their lives after months of quarantine in China, a new deadly wave of the coronavirus has struck the country, forcing Beijing to reintroduce strict lockdown measures one again, including school closures and restrictions on travel, according to CNN.
In Beijing specifically, cases reportedly spread through the city’s largest wholesale food market, leading to another massive outbreak.
The cases are reportedly linked to the Xinfadi market, which supplies most of the city’s fresh fruit and vegetables. The market, which also sells meat and seafood, has been shut down since Saturday.
On June 12, a locally transmitted infection was reported in the capital city for the first time in nearly two months, and in the days since, that number has risen to at least 79. Now authorities are beginning to roll out widespread testing and contact tracing in an effort to track down the sources of the virus.
More than 76,000 people were tested on Sunday, with 59 people testing positive, Beijing’s municipal government spokesman Xu Hejian said at a press conference on Monday.
Health officials also tracked down and collected samples from nearly 30,000 people who had been to the market in the 14 days prior to its closure. All of the 12,000 tests conducted so far showed negative results, Xu said.
This outbreak is also alarming to authorities because the city was previously one of the safest cities, where the virus did not strike as hard, but these new infections are now raising concerns about a new deadly wave, which could bring back the type of strict lockdowns that were seen earlier this year.
Additionally, the government of Beijing has ordered anyone who visited the food market to stay home for the next two weeks. These people are also expected to tell everyone that they have come into contact with to do the same.
A number of local political officials, including the deputy head of the Fengtai district, have been dismissed as a result of the new outbreak.
Before the new cluster developed in Beijing, the city only confirmed 420 local infections and 9 deaths, which is far less than the 80,000 confirmed cases and 4,634 deaths that were recorded across the country.
Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of Global Times, promised in an online statement that Beijing will not become like Wuhan.
“There is no way Beijing becomes Wuhan 2.0. The world will see China’s powerful capacity in controlling the epidemic, including (the) government’s strong leadership, respect to science, public’s willingness to cooperate and nationwide coordination of control measures. We will win again,” he said.
Wuhan was where the outbreak began and was the first city to go into a full military-style lockdown with millions of people ordered to stay indoors for months. While the virus did spread far outside of Wuhan, and all over the world, the city of Wuhan was by far the worst hit by the pandemic, with an untold number of deaths and infections in the first few months of the outbreak, before the virus had been discovered by scientists.