Beijing Back In Coronavirus Lockdown As Highly Contagious ‘Mutant Strain’ Restricts Travel

Beijing coronavirus lockdown

Beijing authorities have described the city’s latest coronavirus outbreak as “extremely severe”.

Travel to and from the city has been curtailed and schools and universities have been shut down.

Residents have been told to avoid ‘non-essential’ travel out of the capital, and anyone entering or leaving are to be tested for Covid-19.

The Sun reports: In a chilling echo of Wuhan’s deadly outbreak, many of the recent cases have been linked to a wholesale market, forcing the lockdown of neighbouring areas, say officials.

The sudden spike has been blamed on a more contagious strain of the bug than the one that ravaged Wuhan at the beginning of the pandemic, according to Yang Zhanqiu, a deputy director at the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University.

Beijing health officials said gene sequencing showed the virus strain causing the new outbreak was related to that in Europe.

It’s the first time in eight weeks that Beijing has reported locally transmitted infections.

The 40 new cases diagnosed on June 16 included 27 in Beijing, bringing the city’s total to 106 since last Friday.

Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian warned reporters: “The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe.

“Right now we have to take strict measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.”

China’s top epidemiologist, Wu Zunyou, told media the next three days will be crucial in controlling the latest outbreak.

“Those who are infected might show symptoms in the coming two days.

“If the number of reported cases does not increase much, it can be said the epidemic has basically stabilised,” he told state broadcaster CCTV.

The expert also warned of further outbreaks of the killer bug: “Comparing the location of the outbreaks in Beijing and the location of the early occurrence in Wuhan, is this the last one?

“Will there be the third and fourth, similar outbreaks in the market?”

Many of the recent cases have been linked to Beijing’s Xinfadi wholesale market, which sells most of the capital’s fruit and veg. Thousands of tonnes of vegetables, fruits and meat change hands each day.

China increased testing and lockdown measures across swathes of the capital today to control its largest coronavirus outbreak in more than two months.

Authorities have been undertaking a mammoth task, testing market workers, shoppers visiting the market in the past two weeks and anyone else who came into contact with either group.