Half a million in lockdown as Beijing fights new coronavirus cluster

The new coronavirus cases in Beijing have prompted fears of a resurgence of the virus in China. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 28 June 2020

Half a million in lockdown as Beijing fights new coronavirus cluster

  • Only one person from each family will be allowed to go out once a day to purchase necessities
  • Move comes after another 14 cases of the virus were reported in the past 24 hours in Beijing

BEIJING: China imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, as authorities warned it was soon to “relax” over the new cluster of cases.
After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in neighboring Hebei province.
Health officials said Sunday that Anxin county — about 150 kilometers from Beijing — will be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year.
Now, only one person from each family will be allowed to go out once a day to purchase necessities such as food and medicine, the county’s epidemic prevention task force said in a statement.
Earlier the county had been subject to some travel restrictions, but now individuals are only allowed to leave their homes to seek medical treatment, the notice said.
The move comes after another 14 cases of the virus were reported in the past 24 hours in Beijing, taking the total to 311 since mid-June.
The outbreak was first detected in Beijing’s sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food market, which supplies much of the city’s fresh produce and sparked concerns over the safety of the food supply chain.
Businesses in Anxin county had supplied freshwater fish to the market, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Some 12 cases of the novel coronavirus were found in the area, including 11 linked to Xinfadi market, the state-run Global Times reported.
The new cases in Beijing have prompted fears of a resurgence of the virus in China.
The capital has mass-tested wholesale market workers, restaurant workers, residents of medium and high-risk neighborhoods and delivery couriers over the past week.
Testing has now expanded to include all employees of the city’s beauty parlors and hair salons, the Global Times said.
Beijing city official Xu Hejian told reporters Saturday: “There is no room for us to relax.”
City officials have urged people not to leave the city, closed schools again and locked down dozens of residential compounds to stamp out the virus.
But Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiology expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters last week the new outbreak had been “brought under control,” and officials lifted a weeks-long lockdown imposed on seven communities in Beijing on Friday.


Troops from Niger and France hunt for killers of aid workers in Niger nature reserve

The wreckage of the car where six French aid workers, their local guide and the driver were killed by unidentified gunmen riding motorcycles in an area of southwestern Niger. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2020

Troops from Niger and France hunt for killers of aid workers in Niger nature reserve

  • Attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group of aid workers as they drove through the giraffe reserve
  • France has 5,100 troops deployed in the arid region south of the Sahara desert

NIAMEY: French and Nigerien soldiers searched through a giraffe reserve and the surrounding area in Niger on Monday for traces of the gunmen who killed six French aid workers, a French military source said.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor also opened an investigation into the incident, in which attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group as it drove through the reserve located 65 km (40 miles) from the capital Niamey — an area considered safe by the Niger government.
The French aid workers were employed by the charity ACTED. A local driver working for the relief group and a guide were also killed. ACTED called the murders “senseless and cowardly.”
“This heinous crime must not go unpunished, nor will it distract us from our commitment to support the people of Niger,” said ACTED, which has worked to help vulnerable populations in the country since 2010.
No one has claimed responsibility for the assault. But France and other countries have warned people against traveling to parts of Niger where militants including Boko Haram and an affiliate of Daesh operate.
“Military operations are ongoing today,” the military source said.
In the clearest sign yet that France believes a militant group was behind the attack, the office of France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor said it was launching an investigation on suspicion of the involvement of a terrorist group.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he shared their families’ grief. “Our determination to combat armed terrorist groups is resolute. The fight continues,” Macron tweeted.
The reserve southeast of Niamey is home to West Africa’s last sizeable population of giraffe in the wild. In the wet season, thick green acacia bushes dot the flat, sandy plains.
It is a popular attraction in Niger, a vast country that borders seven states in an unstable region including Libya, Mali, Chad, Algeria and Nigeria.
France, a former colonial power in the region, has 5,100 troops deployed in the arid region south of the Sahara desert since 2013. The United States also has soldiers based in Niger.
Nonetheless, militant violence has been on the rise.