China Coronavirus Second Wave Risk 'Very High' Says Beijing Official as Lockdown Reinstated After Record New Cases

New cases of the novel coronavirus in China have climbed past 100 over the past two days, with a record 36 new cases reported Sunday in the Chinese capital of Beijing, city officials confirmed Monday, sparking fears over a potential second wave of the virus in the country.

For the second consecutive day, the country's latest daily case count was the highest it's been since around mid-April, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The new cluster of cases is linked to Beijing's Xinfadi wholesale food market, a sprawling complex over 20 times larger than the seafood market in Wuhan where the first outbreak is suspected to have originated, Reuters reports.

"The risk of the epidemic spreading is very high, so we should take resolute and decisive measures," Xu Hejiang, spokesperson for the Beijing city government, said at a press conference on Monday.

Beijing's latest number of daily new cases is the city's highest daily case count since late March. A total of 79 new cases have been reported in Beijing over four days, the biggest concentration of infections reported in the capital since February, Beijing officials confirm.

A total of 49 new cases were reported in China on Sunday, including 10 new imported cases, bringing the current total number of imported cases to 92.

The new imported cases include one new infection in Shanghai, imported from the U.S. and one in the Fujian province imported from Ghana. Others include four people in the Sichuan province who returned from Egypt and two in the Chongqing province involving travelers from India. The Shaanxi province also reported two cases involving travel from Russia and Pakistan, the South China Morning Post reports.

A DNA sequencing of the virus showed the latest outbreak could have come from Europe, an epidemiologist from the Beijing Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Yang Peng, told state broadcaster CCTV on Sunday.

"Our preliminary assessment is [that] the virus came from overseas. We still can't determine how it got here. It might've been on contaminated seafood or meat, or spread from the feces of people inside the market," Yang said.

The Xinfandi market has been closed, with 11 residential areas near the market placed under a strict lockdown. Ten communities near the Yuquandong market, which reported cases linked to Xinfadi, will also be on lockdown, deputy chief of Beijing's Haidian district, Li Junjie, confirmed Monday. Classes have been suspended at some schools, Reuters reports.

The risk level in one neighbourhood in the same district as the Xinfandi market was raised to high risk, the most severe level warning people not to travel to the area. The risk level in several neighbourhoods west and southwest of the capital has been raised to medium risk, including Financial Street, the center area for several banks and financial firms, Reuters reports.

Tens of thousands of residents near the Xinfandi market are being tested in a bid to track down those who have recently visited or been in contact with people who have been to the market. Around 76,500 tests have been conducted in Beijing, as of Sunday, with 59 reported to be positive, a spokesperson for the Beijing Health Commission confirmed.

Coronavirus testing, Nanjing, China, June 2020
A man, who visited Beijing recently, is tested for the novel coronavirus in Nanjing in China's eastern Jiangsu province on June 15, 2020. Getty Images

As of early Monday, 8,950 samples of people who recently visited the Xinfadi market were also collected, with the 6,075 tested so far being negative, the spokesperson confirmed.

The first case from the latest new cluster of infections was reported Thursday when a man with no history of travel or contact with people returning to Beijing from abroad was infected. A second case was reported to be a meat inspector. Both people visited the Xinfadi market in early June, the South China Morning Post reports.

Equivalent to around the size of 160 soccer fields, Xinfandi is said to be Asia's largest food market. It accounts for around 80 percent of Beijing's farm produce and distributes food to China's northern provinces including Shandong, Shanxi, Hebei and Liaoning.

The virus was previously reported to be largely contained in the country following a strict two-month lockdown. Restrictions were lifted from around early April, with travel reopened in Wuhan and the rest of the Hubei province.

The novel coronavirus case has infected 7.9 million people across the globe, including 84,335 in China. Over 3.7 million have reportedly recovered from infection, while more than 433,600 have died, as of Monday, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The graphics below, provided by Statista, illustrate the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. and the worst-affected countries.

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