Beijing's new outbreak is a reminder that the coronavirus can return at any time

Beijing’s new outbreak is a reminder that the coronavirus can return at any time

For 55 days, the Chinese capital has not reported locally transmitted infections and life is returning to normal. Businesses and schools reopened, people returned to work, and public transport and parks were again filled with crowds.

But this facade of normalcy was shattered last week when fresh cluster of coronavirus cases came out of a sprawling wholesale food market in the city, infecting more than 180 people as of Friday.
Within days, the metropolis of more than 20 million people was laid to rest partial blockingAuthorities have reintroduced restrictive measures previously used to fight the initial wave of infections, close neighborhoods, close schools and ban hundreds of thousands of people who are thought to be at risk of contracting the virus from leaving the city. About 356,000 people were tested in just five days.

The outbreak of infections in Beijing, the seat of power of the Communist Party and previously considered one of the safest cities in the country, is a remarkable reminder of how easily the virus can return to places where it is believed to have been tamed.

Five days before the start of the current epidemic, Beijing authorities have just lowered the level of public emergency response from four levels from level 2 to level 3. It was raised back to level 2 on Tuesday night.

Similar warnings have surfaced many times in recent months, with governments rushing to control recurring outbreaks after seemingly misleading the initial number of outbreaks.

South Korea, much hailed for its success in fighting the virus, has been battling a jump in infections since late May after easing rules on social distancing and reopening schools. Singapore has so far been considered the success story of the coronavirus wave of infections erupted in April among migrant workers living in packed dormitories.

Second wave of infections

In China, the initial wave of infections was largely contained by the end of March, thanks in large part to extensive blocking measures that halted much of the country. As outbreaks have worsened in other countries, China has closed its borders to most foreigners, imposed strict screening at airports and quarantined all returning Chinese citizens. Despite preventive measures, accumulations of local infections still flared up in the northeastern part of the country in April and May, all related to import cases.

But the current epidemic in Beijing is the worst revival of the coronavirus to date, and authorities are still trying to find its source.

Previously, reports link the epidemic to seafood or meat after it has been reported that traces of the virus have been found on a cutting board used by the seller of imported salmon on the market. However, there are now fears that the virus is spreading quietly for weeks before being first discovered.

“This outbreak in Beijing probably didn’t start in late May or early June, but probably a month earlier,” Gao Fu, director of the China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told a meeting in Shanghai on Tuesday. .

“There must have been a lot of asymptomatic or mild cases in (the market) that’s why the virus has been found so much in the environment,” he said.

Evidence from the United States suggests that between 25% and 45% of those infected are likely to have no symptoms, with epidemiological studies showing that these individuals can transmit the virus to a person who is not infected.
Zhang Yong, another Chinese CDC official, agreed with Gao’s assessment. He said in article The government announced on Friday that a large number of environmental samples collected from the Xinfadi market had been tested positive for coronavirus, indicating that “the virus has been entering the market for some time.”

“According to the results of preliminary genomic and epidemiological studies, the virus is from Europe, but is different from the virus that is currently spreading in Europe. It is older than the virus that is currently spreading in Europe,” he wrote.

Zhang said the virus could have been hidden in imported frozen food or lurking in some dark and humid environment such as the Xinfadi market before being exposed to humans and causing infection.

In recent months, some Chinese health experts have warned of a potential second wave of infections, even as Chinese state media repeatedly touched on the government’s success in controlling the epidemic and compared it to the failures of Western governments.

In exclusive interview together with CNN in May, China’s best breathing expert, Dr. Zhong Nanshan, warned that China was still facing the “big challenge” of a potential return of the virus and that the authorities should not be complacent.

“Most of … the Chinese are currently still susceptible to Covid-19 infection because of (the) lack of immunity,” Jung said. “We are facing a great challenge, it is not better than the foreign countries I think at the moment.”

The supplier delivers items ordered online by a resident living in a gated community in Beijing.

Outbreak under control

The outbreak in Beijing will be the latest test of China’s coronavirus control strategy.

On Thursday, Wu Tsungo, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese CDC, set a triumphant tone, saying the outbreak in Beijing was already “under control.”

Wu said there was still a possibility of newly confirmed market-related cases in the coming days, but that was probably not due to a recent handover.

“Newly diagnosed cases reported every day do not equate to new infections and the epidemic is under control, does not mean that there will be zero new cases tomorrow,” Wu said.

“There will be cases reported tomorrow and after tomorrow. These reported cases are a process of detecting previous infections. Not new infections. New infections are only sporadic,” Wu said.

The chief epidemiologist said a new outbreak in Beijing was not unexpected, given the large number of new global cases.

“As long as there are risks of imported cases, imported infections and small clusters caused by imported infections can occur anywhere in China. From this point of view (the Beijing outbreak) is normal,” he said.

CNN’s Stephen Jiang contributed to the report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *