Beijing Market Tied to New COVID-19 Outbreak Has High Virus Concentrations

The meat and seafood trading sections at Beijing's huge wholesale market were found to be seriously contaminated with the coronavirus which causes COVID-19, according to officials.

The results of a preliminary report come after COVID-19 cases spiked in China's capital in the past week. Most individuals were linked to the now-closed Xinfadi wholesale market—which is the size of around 250 football fields—in the city's Fengtai District.

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention detailed the findings at a daily briefing on Thursday, Reuters reported. Wu said most of the patients working at the market had served on the seafood and aquatic product stalls, and these individuals had had COVID-19 symptoms earlier than others. The next worst affected was the meat and mutton section.

Officials believe the combination of high humidity and low temperatures at seafood markets may explain why they are linked to outbreaks, according to Wu, who said this hypothesis is yet to be confirmed.

After having no new confirmed COVID-19 cases for 57 days, 137 domestically spread infections were identified in Beijing between June 11 to 16, according to Xinhua, China's official state-run press agency. These were mostly linked to Xinfadi. The outbreak has also been linked to cases in other provinces.

On Sunday, Xu Hejian, a spokesperson for the local government, said all personnel at the market and nearby residents would be tested for the coronavirus and put under medical observation. Those who had close contact with workers since May 30 were asked to report their employers and communities and be tested.

Chen Bei, deputy secretary-general of the Beijing municipal government, told a press conference on Tuesday: "The epidemic situation in Beijing remains grim and the city has reported a daily double-digit increase in domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases in recent days."

Beijing responded to the outbreak by raising its level emergency threat level to the second highest, which involved implementing a number of travel restrictions. Those who wish to enter the city must following steps including temperature and health code checks, have a registered pass, and provide their name. Those trying to leave are required to have a negative coronavirus test results from the past seven days.

In addition, those from townships and districts designated as a medium or high risk, as well as well as certain individuals associated with Xinfadi, cannot leave Beijing.

School children, meanwhile, are no longer allowed to attend classes in person but must learn online. Large events such as exhibitions and sporting events have been stopped, and residents are advised to wear masks and not gather in groups.

Amid the fresh outbreak, videos have emerged showing crowds of people wearing masks outside testing centers in Beijing.

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Chinese police guard the entrance to the closed Xinfadi market in Beijing on June 13, 2020. - Eleven residential estates in south Beijing have been locked down due to a fresh cluster of coronavirus cases linked to the Xinfadi meat market, officials said on June 13. GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images