Beijing Now Coronavirus-Free as Last Two Patients Discharged From Hospital

Beijing, China, is now free from coronavirus, with the last two patients being discharged from hospital Tuesday. Authorities said no new cases were reported in the capital city the same day.

The two patients left the Beijing Ditan Hospital on Tuesday, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported. One patient had caught the virus in the city of Dalian, to the east of Beijing, while the other case was imported from abroad.

Beijing has been relatively unscathed by the pandemic, with data from Johns Hopkins University showing there have been 935 cases and nine deaths. At the start of the outbreak, the city was placed on lockdown for around two months to curb the spread of the virus. Cases had started to fall significantly by February, and the city started to reopen in March.

However, Beijing was hit with a second wave of infections in June, with over 100 new cases recorded by the middle of June. Officials said the outbreak had been traced to Dalian.

The first case in the second outbreak was confirmed on June 11. This ended a 55-day stretch with no locally transmitted cases in the city. Over the next week, officials carried out hundreds of thousands of tests, confirming 137 cases by June 17.

Officials said a meat and seafood market in Beijing was found to be highly contaminated with SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19. It is thought the cool temperatures at the market, coupled with high humidity, may have helped the virus spread. Xu Hejian, a spokesperson for the local government, said everyone who worked at the market and people living nearby would be tested for the virus. People who had close contact with workers were also asked to get tested.

Following the outbreak, almost half a million people in Beijing were placed under lockdown. The city raised its emergency threat level to its second-highest. Travel restrictions were imposed, with people who wished to leave having to have a negative coronavirus test. Large events were stopped and schools stopped in-person lessons.

A statement from the Beijing Municipal Health Commission on August 14 said there had been 335 cases in the outbreak in total. The last patient from the cluster was discharged from hospital on August 6.

According to the World Health Organization, there have been over 23.5 million cases of coronavirus worldwide. China has had just over 90,000 confirmed cases, and 4,700 deaths.

The country, which has a population of 1.39 billion, reported 23 new cases on August 25.

The U.S. is the world's worst-affected country, with over 5.6 million cases and almost 176,000 deaths, according to WHO data. On August 25, 37,765 new cases were recorded.

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People waiting for coronavirus tests in Beijing on July 6. An outbreak in June led to a partial lockdown of the city. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images