Beijing has shut down several markets, including the largest Xinfadi wholesale food market, and locked down 11 residential communities near it after six new domestically-transmitted coronavirus cases were reported, taking the tally to nine in the capital city in the last three days.
Officials in Beijing found the coronavirus on a chopping board of imported salmon at the Xinfadi market.
China's National Health Commission (NHC) said on Saturday that 12 new infections were registered in other parts of China.
NHC said that out of the 18 new coronavirus cases, 11 were confirmed cases reported in the country on Friday, including six domestically-transmitted infections in Beijing.
Also on Friday, seven new asymptomatic cases were reported, taking the total number of such people in quarantine to 98, it said.
Everybody, including customers and meat dealers have undergone nucleic acid tests. In total, six major wholesale markets in Beijing suspended, or partially suspended, operations on Friday, the Global Times report said.
Following the emergence of virus in the market, nine related people have been put into quarantine even though their test results were negative, Zhang Yuxi, head of the Xinfadi market, told the Beijing News on Friday.
According to a report in AP, 11 residential communities near Xinfadi market have been placed under lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus.
It also quoted Beijing officials saying that 45 workers at the market have tested positive for the virus but showed no symptoms.
State-run Xinhua news agency said the Xinfadi market has a total area of 112 hectares, some 1,500 management personnel and more than 4,000 tenants.
The sudden spike in cases in Beijing caused an alarm among the officials as the city which was well protected from the rest of the country has not reported new cases for about two months.
The new cases raised concerns of a possible resurgence of the coronavirus in the Chinese capital city.
Local officials have been asked to maintain wartime status to resolutely eliminate the possibility of a second outbreak, Cai Qi, ruling Communist Party secretary of the city, said.
Chinese health experts believe sporadic cases are normal as the epidemic has not ended, but a resurgence is unlikely as the capital's 20 million residents are deeply aware of precautions, state-run Global Times reported.
The two cases reported on Friday are colleagues from a meat research centre in Beijing's Fengtai District, and they are receiving treatment at a designated hospital.
One patient, surnamed Liu, had travelled to Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province for five days, while the other had no recent travel history, a Fengtai District official said at a press conference on Friday.
Beijing immediately shut down the beef and lamb trade centre of wholesaler Xinfadi Market and Jingshen seafood market in Fengtai District where Tang, who was tested for coronavirus on Thursday had visited.
Beijing will strengthen COVID-19 controls in the resumed catering industry, targeting meat and seafood markets, supermarkets, frozen meat warehouses and restaurants, the Global Times report said.
Beijing on Friday also changed its decision to reopen schools from first to third grades after the city reported new COVID-19 cases for two consecutive days.
Xu Hejian, a spokesperson of the Beijing municipal government told media that "the risks of epidemic exist, and we cannot tolerate any slack in regular prevention and control."
As of Friday, the overall confirmed cases in China had reached 83,075, including 74 patients who were still being treated, with no one in severe condition.
Altogether 78,367 people had been discharged after recovery and 4,634 people had died of the disease, NHC said.
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