Beijing has reported a new spike in coronavirus cases - but is a second wave coming?

Monday, 15th June 2020, 2:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 11:17 am
Authorities in Beijing fear a second wave of coronavirus (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Chinese capital of Beijing has recorded a spike in new coronavirus cases, sparking fears of a second wave in the country.

After having no new cases for 50 days, 36 new coronavirus infections were reported in Beijing on Saturday 13 June.

The city's largest wholesale market in the Fengtai district is believed to be the source of the new infections, with provinces Liaoning, Hebei and Sichuan reporting or suspecting cases linked to Beijing.

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Authorities acted decisively to re-impose coronavirus restrictions, with 11 neighbourhoods around the market, and the market itself, placed in lockdown.

As of Monday 15 June, restrictions were reportedly levied on 10 more neighbourhoods. Residents can come and go, but visitors and deliveries are not allowed.

Nurseries and schools near the market were told to close, and the scheduled reopening of primary schools, planned for 15 June, has been postponed.

Where did the new infections come from?

Local media has reported that the virus was discovered on chopping boards used for salmon at the market, prompting supermarkets in Beijing to pull salmon products from their shelves.

The chief epidemiologist of China's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the particular Covid-19 strain found in the market didn't resemble the strain found circulating the rest of the country, indicating it may have been brought in from elsewhere.

Though case numbers are low at the moment, authorities are concerned that infections could once again spiral, causing a second wave of coronavirus in the country.

The market supplies 80 per cent of Beijing's meat and vegetables, and has tens of thousands of visitors per day. However, it is hoped that the speed with which lockdown has been re-imposed and the regime of testing in the country will stem the tide, with 10,000 market staff to be tested for the virus.

The spike in cases has come just as normal activities were beginning to resume in Beijing, though social distancing measures remain in place in many settings.