BEIJING (Reuters) – A Beijing district put itself on a “wartime” footing and the capital banned tourism and sports events on Saturday after a cluster of novel coronavirus infections centred around a major wholesale market sparked fears of a new wave of COVID-19.
Forty-five people out of 517 tested with throat swabs at the Xinfadi market in the city’s southwestern Fengtai district had tested positive for the coronavirus, Chu Junwei, a district official, told a briefing.
None were showing symptoms of COVID-19, he said, but added that 11 neighbourhoods in the vicinity of the market, which claims to be the largest agricultural wholesale market in Asia, had been locked down with 24-hour guards put in place.
“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,” he added.
Lockdowns were imposed in parts of Beijing on Saturday to try and prevent the spread of a new coronavirus cluster, highlighting the challenges that lie ahead even for places where outbreaks are under control.
It came as Brazil claimed the unenviable position of having the second-highest virus death toll worldwide behind the United States, with no sign the infection rate is slowing in Latin America.
Some of Europe’s hardest hit countries meanwhile are further emerging from lockdown, even as fingers are being pointed at who is to blame for the health and economic crisis.
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