Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY
Published 5:21 a.m. ET June 17, 2020 | Updated 5:47 a.m. ET June 17, 2020
Chinese authorities intensified efforts to stem a resurgence of coronavirus cases in Beijing after the capital reported several dozen new instances of the disease Wednesday after a period of almost two months without a single new infection.
Beijing has recorded more than 130 coronavirus infections, but no deaths, since Saturday. Most are linked to a wholesale food market where a new COVID-19 coronavirus cluster emerged. Officials have locked down some residential compounds, closed schools and Beijing’s airports cancelled two-thirds of all flights.
The city raised its coronavirus emergency threat level from Level 3 to Level 2 – Level 1 is the highest alert level – and hardened social distancing requirements for its 22 million inhabitants. Thousands of people have been ordered to take tests and anyone who visited Xinfadi Market has been ordered to self-isolate for 14 days.
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Xinfadi is the largest wholesale food market in China – equivalent to 250 football fields – and supplies about 80% of Beijing’s daily meat and farm produce. Officials have yet to pinpoint the precise source of the new outbreak, according to Zeng Guang, a member of the National Health Commission, which formulates China’s health policies.
He said in a new conference on Sunday that “Beijing will not turn into a second Wuhan, spreading the virus to many cities all across the country and even needing a (full) lockdown.” But Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing government, warned Wednesday that the situation was “extremely severe,” and that people “must fully grasp that epidemic containment in the capital is long-term, complex and arduous.”
China has added about 4,400 coronavirus cases to its total since hitting 80,000 infections in March, according to John Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker.
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Of the confirmed two million coronavirus cases, more than 113,000 Americans have died since the virus emerged here a few months ago.
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