Beijing reports 22 new COVID-19 cases, on alert

Beijing on Saturday reported 22 new domestically-transmitted COVID-19 cases, while maintaining a state of alert and continued testing of its residents after a fresh coronavirus outbreak was detected last week in the Chinese capital’s wholesale food market.

By the end of Friday, Beijing had reported 625 confirmed domestically-transmitted cases, including 411 who had been discharged from hospitals after recovery and nine deaths, reports Xinhua news agency.

There were 17 asymptomatic cases still under medical observation.

So far, 174 imported cases have been reported in Beijing, with one still hospitalized.

Meanwhile, city authorities have continued testing of employees of restaurants, universities, and markets, while restrictions have been maintained on leaving the capital.

Residents of areas designated as high-risk are not allowed to leave.

Anybody wanting to leave Beijing needs to acquire a certificate of good health and present a negative coronavirus test result carried out within seven days before the departure.

Since the municipal authorities announced on Tuesday that the emergency response alert level was being raised from three to two, local communities have resumed checking the identity and health symptoms of residents.

Moreover, all classes requiring physical presence have been suspended and residents have been advised to work from home, while the high-risk areas have been sealed with nobody allowed to exit the zone.

The State Council of China (the executive) on Friday released a series of guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus over the summer and advised citizens to regularly check and clean their air conditioners.

An official said that this could be crucial, as there was a risk of infection if the virus circulates through the air.

The government emphasized that people should get used to being “flexible” and comply with the measures put in place according to the alert level.

Regarding the outbreak in Beijing, where the virus was detected on a salmon cutting board as per preliminary reports, and the risk associated with it, the official said there was no evidence that people would be infected by eating contaminated food “including seafood”.

However, he said that it was better not to touch fish or raw meat.

Preliminary investigations by Chinese scientists show that the strain of the virus found at a large scale at Beijing’s Xinfadi market may have originated in Europe, but it was still not clear how it reached there.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Friday that it had sent the gene sequence of the virus responsible for the Beijing outbreak to the World Health Organization.

The market, now sealed, supplies around 70 per cent of the vegetables, 10 per cent of pork, and 3 per cent of beef and lamb consumed in the capital.