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Beijing Lockdown Tightens As New Coronavirus Outbreak Spreads

Authorities in Beijing have locked down residential compounds and fired officials over a new Covid-19 outbreak, as health officials warned the risk of the outbreak worsening was “very high”.

On Monday, authorities announced 49 new cases, 36 of which were linked to the Xinfadi seafood supermarket in Beijing’s southern Fengtai district. The wholesale market was closed on Saturday after it was identified as being at the centre of a new cluster of cases.

“The risk of the epidemic spreading is very high, so we should take resolute and decisive measures,” Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing city government, said at a press briefing on Monday. On Sunday he said Beijing had entered “an extraordinary period”.

As of Monday total of 21 residential communities, housing about 90,000 people, near Xinfadi as well as a second seafood market in Haidian district, where cases linked to Xinfadi were also confirmed, had been closed off. Residents have been ordered to quarantine at home and undergo tests for the virus.

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Beijing, which had previously gone 55 days in which the only new infections were citizens returning from other countries, has reported a total of 79 cases in the past four days. The first case in the new outbreak was discovered on Thursday after a 52-year old man surnamed Tang was confirmed to have the virus. On Friday, authorities reported another six cases – all of them, including Tang, linked to the Xinfadi market.

Authorities fear the virus spreading from Beijing. Several Chinese cities have urged their residents not to travel to the capital. The city of Daqing, in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang, has started to require travellers from Beijing to undergo 21 days of isolation.

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