China on Saturday closed the Xinfadi market, the country’s largest wholesale market for meat and vegetables in Beijing after a cluster of coronavirus cases centered around it sparked fears of a new wave of the infection, Reuters reported. Eleven other neighbourhoods in the vicinity of the markert were also sealed, and all tourism and sport events were cancelled.
The market was shut late in the night after two men working at a meat research centre, who had recently visited the market, were found to be infected with Covid-19.
“Preliminary judgement suggests these cases may have come into contact with a contaminated environment in the market, or were infected after being in contact with infected people,” Pang Xinghuo, an official at the Beijing Center for Disease Control said. “We cannot rule out subsequent cases in the future.”
As many as 45 people out of 517 also tested positive for the virus at the market, which is located in Beijing’s southwestern Fengtai area, Chu Junwei, a district official told the news agency. All of them were asymptomatic cases, he added.
“In accordance with the principle of putting the safety of the masses and health first, we have adopted lockdown measures for the Xinfadi market and surrounding neighbourhoods,” Chu said. “The district is in a wartime emergency mode.”
More than 10,000 people at the Xinfadi market will be made to take nucleic acid tests to detect coronavirus infections, unidentified officials told the news agency.
The Xinfadi market is considered to be the largest agricultural wholesale market in Asia. More than 1,500 tonnes of seafood, 18,000 tonnes of vegetables and 20,000 tonnes of fruit are reportedly traded at the market daily. Beijing authorities had earlier halted beef and mutton trading at the Xinfadi market.
One person at an agricultural market in the city’s northwestern Haidian district also tested positive for the coronavirus, Chu said.
China reported 11 new Covid-19 cases and seven asymptomatic cases for Friday, the national health authority said on Saturday. And all six locally transmitted cases were confirmed in Beijing. The coronavirus is said to have originated in a wildlife market in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year.