Parts of Beijing locked down due to fresh virus cluster

Beijing’s Xinfadi meat wholesale market and Jingshen seafood market were closed for disinfection and environmental sample collection after it emerged both were visited by two newly identified coronavirus patients, local media reported. (AFP)
Updated 13 June 2020

Parts of Beijing locked down due to fresh virus cluster

BEIJING: Dozens of people tested positive for the coronavirus in Beijing as parts of the city were locked down Saturday after the emergence of a new cluster linked to a wholesale food market.
People were ordered to stay home at 11 residential estates in south Beijing’s Fengtai district and the nearby Xinfadi market was closed as authorities raced to contain the outbreak that has fueled fears of a resurgence in local transmission.
Most of the six new domestic infections reported Saturday were linked to the meat and vegetable market, the National Health Commission said.
But another 45 asymptomatic cases — which China counts separately — were detected after mass testing of nearly 2,000 workers at the market on Friday, city health official Pang Xinghuo later told reporters.
They have been placed under medical observation, Pang said.
Another worker tested positive at a farmers’ market in the city’s northwestern district of Haidian. They were a close contact of one of the confirmed cases linked to Xinfadi.
Beijing’s first COVID-19 case in two months, announced on Thursday, had visited Xinfadi market last week and had no recent travel history outside the city.
China’s domestic outbreak had been brought largely under control through vast, strict lockdowns that were imposed after the disease was first detected in the central city of Wuhan late last year.
These measures had mostly been lifted as the infection rate dropped, and the majority of cases reported in recent months were citizens living abroad who were tested as they returned home during the pandemic.
Among the six new domestic cases announced Saturday were three Xinfadi market workers, one market visitor and two employees at the China Meat Research Center, seven kilometers (four miles) away. One of the employees had visited the market last week.
Authorities closed the market, along with another seafood market visited by one of the patients, for disinfection and sample collection on Friday.
AFP reporters saw hundreds of police officers and dozens of paramilitary police deployed at the two markets, with no one allowed to leave Xinfadi.
Workers were seen hauling several crates of seafood out of Jingshen seafood market, also in Fengtai district.
Officials in Fengtai — which has more than two million residents — announced Saturday that the district has established a “wartime mechanism” and “field command center” to deal with the fresh wave.
Nine nearby schools and kindergartens have been closed. On Friday, Beijing delayed the return of students to primary schools across the city, and suspended all sporting events and group dining.
Cross-provincial tour groups have also been suspended.
The chairman of the Xinfadi market told state-run Beijing News that the virus was detected on chopping boards used to handle imported salmon, stoking fears over the hygiene of the city’s food supply.
Beijing’s market supervision authorities ordered a city-wide food safety inspection focusing on fresh and frozen meat, poultry and fish in supermarkets, warehouses and catering services.
Major supermarket chains including Wumart and Carrefour removed all stocks of salmon overnight in the capital, but said supplies of other products would not be affected, Beijing Daily reported Saturday.
Some Beijing restaurants were not serving any salmon on Saturday, according to AFP reporters.
On Saturday morning, community volunteers in various Beijing districts knocked on residents’ doors to ask if they had recently visited Xinfadi market.
Beijing authorities also announced a mass COVID-19 testing campaign of anyone who has had “close contact” with the Xinfadi market since May 30, after they tested over 5,000 environmental samples from farmers’ markets and large supermarkets across the city on Friday. Of those, all 40 positive samples came from Xinfadi market.


Kremlin says it hopes to resolve differences on nuclear arms control pact with Washington

Updated 21 October 2020

Kremlin says it hopes to resolve differences on nuclear arms control pact with Washington

  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia hoped to continue dialogue with Washington on extending the new START treaty

MOSCOW: Russia said on Wednesday it hoped to resolve its differences with the United States over a nuclear arms control treaty that expires in February next year.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia hoped to continue dialogue with Washington on extending the new START treaty. He was speaking a day after the United States welcomed a proposal by Moscow to prolong it by a year if both sides agreed to freeze their stocks of all nuclear warheads for that period.
Signed in 2010, the last US-Russia pact of its kind limits the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers each country can deploy.