Mass test­ing in Bei­jing af­ter out­break

Mil­i­tary-style ac­tion aimed at stop­ping virus

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - ANNA FI­FIELD

Bei­jing has set about test­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple for coro­n­avirus in an ex­haus­tive ef­fort to stamp out a new erup­tion of the dis­ease in the Chi­nese cap­i­tal.

Af­ter dozens of new cases were re­ported over the week­end and con­tin­u­ing into Mon­day, Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties mo­bi­lized al­most 100,000 com­mu­nity work­ers to carry out tests on ev­ery­one who has worked in or vis­ited the Xin­fadi mar­ket in the south­west of Bei­jing.

Xin­fadi is the largest fruit, veg­etable and meat mar­ket in the cap­i­tal, which is home to some 21 mil­lion peo­ple, and sup­plies 70 per cent of the city’s fresh veg­eta­bles and 80 per cent of its fruit.

But af­ter dis­cov­er­ing more than 90 new in­fec­tions linked to the mar­ket over the week­end, and a fur­ther 36 be­ing re­ported Mon­day, Bei­jing’s health au­thor­i­ties are tak­ing mil­i­tary-style ac­tion to try to en­sure the virus doesn’t spread fur­ther.

“These clus­tered cases are highly cor­re­lated with the Xin­fadi agri­cul­tural whole­sale mar­ket, which has a highly mo­bile crowd and poses great out­break risks,” Vice Pre­mier Sun Chun­lan said at a State Coun­cil brief­ing, ac­cord­ing to state me­dia re­ports Mon­day. “We have to take firm ac­tion and res­o­lute mea­sures to ef­fec­tively stop the epi­demic from spread­ing,” she said.

The sud­den ap­pear­ance of scores of new in­fec­tions, both symp­to­matic and asymp­to­matic, high­lights the re­silience of the virus de­spite tight so­cial con­trols. It also un­der­scores the dan­gers of mar­kets as the virus is be­lieved to have orig­i­nated in the Hua­nan food mar­ket in the city of Wuhan be­fore it spread across the globe.

More than 77,000 peo­ple were tested on Sun­day and an­other 200,000 peo­ple were ex­pected to be tested Mon­day, Bei­jing mu­nic­i­pal au­thor­i­ties said.

Ev­ery­one who has vis­ited the mar­ket since May 30 is also or­dered to iso­late them­selves at home, and res­i­den­tial com­pounds around Xin­fadi and an­other nearby mar­ket, Yuquan, have been sealed off so that residents can’t wan­der freely. Nine kinder­gartens and el­e­men­tary schools around Xin­fadi were also or­dered to close.

The first signs that the clus­ter was linked to Xin­fadi came with a man who tested pos­i­tive af­ter vis­it­ing the mar­ket on June 3 to buy meat and seafood. Then on Fri­day, Bei­jing’s Cen­tre for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion an­nounced that two qual­ity con­trol work­ers who had been in the mar­ket check­ing stan­dards had also tested pos­i­tive.

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