[Newsphopick=Atalia Chua] Having claimed that Covid-19 cases have stabilized, with no new cases reported for a while, Beijing was blindsided by a spike in cases on Monday, 15 June. 75 cases were reported and all were linked to Xinfadi wholesale food market in Beijing. In addition, 49 cases were found nationwide. One day earlier, it was also reported that 36 cases linked to the food market were recorded.
From 10 - 12 June, city health authority data showed that 43 cases were reported and linked to the market in Fengtai district - southwest of Beijing. In a press conference by city official Li Junjie, he said that cases had also been found at the Yuquandong wholesale market in the capital's northwestern Haidian district.
In the neighbouring northeastern province of Liaoning, these capital cases had also spread there - with two cases confirmed by the provincial health authority.
With these ominous news, the Chinese are fearing a second wave of infections would sweep through the nation, bringing the country back into lockdown and a standstill. The city has closed the market and neighbouring schools, while residents in the 10 housing estates in close proximity to the market will be quarantined for an indefinite amount of time.
This mandate has been estimated to affect thousands of people. The capital ordered mass testing of these households, which stands at roughly 46,000 residents, and workers from the Xinfadi food market.
Patrons of the food market were called forth to be tested as well. Tracing efforts are underway to locate them with companies and local communities contacting residents and staff to ascertain their recent whereabouts. Many people had turned up to be tested at one local stadium on 15 June, which was tightly managed and controlled by people donning hazmat suits. More than 10,000 people had reportedly been tested already.
"Beijing has entered an extraordinary period," city spokesman Xu Hejian said on 14 June. As many as 10 cities had discouraged their residents from travelling to Beijing for the time being - indicating the severity of these outbreaks - though the numbers are still small.
Beijing health authority spokesman Gao Xiaojun is leaving nothing to chance and taking proactive and thorough measures to nip this new wave in the bud. He announced in a news conference that anyone in the city who has a fever will be given nucleic-acid and serology tests for the virus, as well as a blood test and a CT scan. He has ordered that no medical facilities are permitted to turn away any patient with fever symptoms when they seek treatment. Beijing News reported that city officials have also mandated everything from the market to be taken and completely disinfected.
Only time will tell if these measures will slow the rate of infections, or if there was a latent cluster of infections undiscovered in previous weeks, inciting worries that the reported numbers are only going to increase momentum.