Fears of a second wave in the Chinese capital are mounting as a worrying new spike in cases continues into another week. Another 36 cases were also recorded on Saturday, with the city having previously seen no new cases in more than 50 days. China has reported its highest rise in coronavirus infections since early April, leading to fears that a second wave of the deadly pandemic could be underway in the world’s most populous country.
The country’s Vice Premier Sun Chunlan called on officials to take “decisive measures”, warning that the risk of further spread remained high.
The outbreak has been linked to the Xinfadi market, the city’s largest wholesale market.
A total of 79 cases are linked to the market according to the Global Times.
Three other provinces – Liaoning, Hebei and Sichuan – have also reported confirmed or suspected cases connected to Beijing.
According to local media reports, the virus was discovered on chopping boards used for imported salmon at the market.
This has prompted major supermarkets in Beijing to pull the fish from their shelves.
According to China’s National Health Commission, Beijing recorded one new virus case on Thursday and six new cases on Friday – the first cases in almost two months.
On Saturday, 36 new local cases were recorded in Beijing, all related to Xinfadi market.
JUST IN: Royal shock: Why Prince Philip missed the Queen’s birthday parade
However, residents can still come and go.
Schools and nurseries near the market were told to shut and the re-opening of primary schools, originally scheduled for today, has now been postponed, reported the Global Times.
Some 10,000 market staff will be tested for the virus.
The chief epidemiologist of China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the virus strain found in Beijing did not resemble the type circulating across the rest of the country.
This suggests the virus might have been brought in from elsewhere.
This potential new wave of cases came as normal life had begun resuming across Beijing and most parts of China.
People had cautiously returned to workplaces and students back to schools – though virus restrictions still remained in place.
The BBC’s China correspondent Stephen McDonell tweeted: “The greatest emphasis, in terms of control measures has been in the Beijing district around where the huge Xinfadi wholesale market and around a couple of other markets.
“There are schools closed and housing areas sealed off to all but local residents.”
The BBC correspondent described the People’s Armed Police marching into the Xinfadi wholesale market earlier on Saturday.
Video shows lines and lines of marching men that have cordoned off the whole area.
Chinese authorities have shut down the city’s Fengtai district and other subsections in a city that has a population of nearly 22 million people.
An official said the Fengtai district was in “wartime emergency mode”.