Beijing deploys war-like measures amid coronavirus outbreak tied to a huge market place
Chris White on June 14, 2020
Authorities in Beijing adopted a series of draconian containment measures after China’s capital confirmed another coronavirus outbreak, the third such outbreak in the country since May, reports Sunday show.
The capital recorded 36 coronavirus infections Saturday, according to China’s National Health Commission, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. The city discovered another eight cases Sunday morning, officials said, bringing the total number of cases to 50 in a matter of days. U.S. officials believe China is undercounting coronavirus cases and deaths.
The reported cases were all linked to Xinfadi, a meat and vegetable wholesale market that supplies most of Beijing’s fruit and vegetables, officials said. They discovered the linkage to the market Thursday.
Officials believe coronavirus, or COVID-19, originated in Wuhan, China, before spreading globally, killing a reported 115,000 people in the United States.
One Fengtai official likened the lockdowns to wartime-like measures during a press conference Saturday, TheWSJ reported. Such measures include travel restrictions, lockdowns and the mass mobilization of watchdog committees to monitor citizen’s whereabouts.
“Beijing has entered an extraordinary period,” Beijing’s Coronavirus Outbreak Prevention and Control Committee said on the city government’s official WeChat account Saturday. The committee is chaired by Beijing Communist Party Secretary Cai Qi.
Chinese state media published photos appearing to show a massive number of masked police and paramilitary personnel guarding the Xinfadi market, which covers the equivalent of roughly 200 American football fields, the report notes.
A new cluster was discovered in Wuhan in late May, prompting officials to tested more than nine million of the city’s residents in 10 days. Another cluster discovered that month resulted in the reintroduction of draconian lockdown measures in a city in the northeastern province of Jilin.
Most of Xinfadi’s 10,000 workers underwent testing as of Sunday, local health authorities said, TheWSJ reported. The Fengtai district performed almost 11 000 tests in total and planned to screen 46,000 people who live near the market, according to the report, citing officials.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials believe China is downplaying the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the country.
The intelligence community reportedly sent a report to the Trump administration in April explaining how Beijing consistently under-reports the number of coronavirus cases. Coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx, for her part, criticized China for not providing the rest of the world with timely data.
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