BEIJING: Lockdowns were imposed in parts of Beijing on Saturday (Jun 13) to try to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus cluster, with 57 new COVID-19 cases reported.
It is the highest number of new cases reported in China since Apr 13, according to data released by the national health authority on Sunday.
There are fears of a resurgence in local transmissions in China, where the outbreak curve has been months ahead of the rest of the world, and comes as many European nations are further lifting lockdowns.
After the disease emerged late last year in central China, authorities there largely eliminated transmission within their borders through hyper-strict lockdowns later emulated across the globe.
But on Thursday, Beijing announced its first infection in two months and then said 50 more cases had been linked to the large Xinfadi meat and vegetable market in the city’s southwestern Fengtai district.
More cases connected with the market emerged on Saturday after wider testing.
The market was closed and AFP reporters saw hundreds of police officers – many wearing masks and gloves – and dozens of paramilitary police deployed there on Saturday.
The new cluster of domestic infections has prompted fresh lockdowns with people ordered to stay home in 11 residential estates near to the market.
Worries have also grown about the safety of the food supply chain, with some other markets in the city also closed.
“Everyone’s very stressed,” an elderly driver told AFP outside a fenced-off neighbourhood in southwest Beijing.
“There are cases living in there. It’s real.”
Nineteen of the new confirmed cases were imported cases involving travellers from overseas, with 17 of them arriving in Guangdong.
China also reported nine asymptomatic cases, one new suspected case and no new deaths from COVID-19 for June 13.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 83,132, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634. China does not count asymptomatic patients, who are infected with the virus but do not display symptoms, as confirmed cases.
MORE THAN 427,000 DEAD
Worldwide, the pandemic has killed more than 427,000 and infected more than 7.7 million, while wreaking widespread economic devastation.
The number of global infections has doubled in slightly over a month – with one million cases recorded in the last nine days – and the virus is spreading most rapidly in Latin America.
Mexico and Chile on Friday recorded their worst days yet during the pandemic, while Chilean health minister Jaime Manalich resigned on Saturday amid a furore over the true disease toll there.
Brazil has recorded 41,828 deaths, surpassing Britain’s toll.
The WHO said this week the pandemic is accelerating in Africa. Botswana’s capital Gaborone was locked down Saturday after new cases were detected.
In the US, which has seen the most COVID-19 deaths with over 115,000, more than a dozen states – including populous Texas and Florida – reported their highest-ever daily case totals in recent days.