Parts of Beijing are fenced off and new travel bans introduced

Beijing back in lockdown: Parts of the city are fenced off and new travel bans introduced to stop new 'extremely severe' coronavirus outbreakChina reported 40 more coronavirus infection on Tuesday, wi

Parts of Beijing are fenced off and new travel bans introduced

Beijing back in lockdown: Parts of the city are fenced off and new travel bans introduced to stop new 'extremely severe' coronavirus outbreak

  • China reported 40 more coronavirus infection on Tuesday, with 27 in Beijing
  • One scientist has warned the new strain of the virus could be more infectious 
  • Officials have been fencing off parts of the city with some in total lockdown
  • This new outbreak has been linked with a food wholesale market called Xinfadi
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Chinese authorities were reimposing some travel restrictions in the capital Tuesday as they worked to contain a new coronavirus outbreak and prevent it spreading more widely in a country that previously appeared to have largely contained the virus.

As reopenings from Europe to Latin America continued, the resurgence in China highlighted expert calls for vigilance in the fight against the pandemic.

China reported 40 more coronavirus infections on Tuesday, 27 of them in Beijing, bringing the city´s total to 106 since Friday. At least one patient was in critical condition and two were in serious condition.

Meanwhile, deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University - Yang Zhanqiu - told state media that he believed the latest outbreak in Beijing involved a more infectious strain of the virus than the one which hit Wuhan at the start of the pandemic. 

The country's Vice Premier Sun Chunlan urged the city's officials to impose 'the strictest' virus control measures to contain the spread of the virus, which has been linked to a massive food wholesale market called Xinfadi. 

Pictured: A Chinese epidemic control worker wears a protective suit and mask as he directs people at a site where authorities were performing nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 on citizens who have had contact with the the Xinfadi Wholesale Market, June 15, 2020 in Beijing, China

Pictured: A Chinese epidemic control worker wears a protective suit and mask as he directs people at a site where authorities were performing nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 on citizens who have had contact with the the Xinfadi Wholesale Market, June 15, 2020 in Beijing, China

Virologist Yang believed that the new strain could be more infectious based on the high number of new cases in a short period of time, according to China's state-run global times.

The Times reported that Yang believed that if the virus spreading in Beijing 'matches the type of virus sampled in the Xinfadi market and from Europe', then it was likely that it had been 'imported' into China by food or people from Europe.

Yang did warn that new strains of the virus make finding a vaccination more challenging, explaining: 'No doubt different genotypes of the virus can cause the vaccine to be less effective, or even ineffective. 

'That means the vaccine would have to be effective against both viruses circulating in China and those in Europe, adding difficulty to developing a vaccine,' he said.

Pictured: People get tested for the coronavirus at a temporary testing facility in Beijing at an outdoor sports center June 15, 2020

Pictured: People get tested for the coronavirus at a temporary testing facility in Beijing at an outdoor sports center June 15, 2020

Pictured: A police vehicle is seen outside an entrance of the Xinfadi wholesale market, which has been closed following cases of coronavirus infections in Beijing, June 16, 2020

Pictured: A police vehicle is seen outside an entrance of the Xinfadi wholesale market, which has been closed following cases of coronavirus infections in Beijing, June 16, 2020

Authorities have been testing market workers, anyone who visited the market in the past two weeks and anyone who came into contact with either group.

The Chinese capital, with a population of 21.5million, has locked down at least 11 neighbourhoods close to Xinfadi, with some areas being fenced off, and launched a mass-testing programme to screen all 46,000 people who have visited the market or live nearby.

Fresh meat and seafood in the city and elsewhere in China was also being inspected on the unlikely chance that was how the virus spread.

Residential communities around the market have been put under lockdown, along with the area around a second market, where three cases were confirmed. In all, 90,000 people are affected in the two neighborhoods in the city of 20 million. 

Authorities are also barring residents of areas considered at high risk from leaving Beijing and those from such areas who have already left must report to local health bureaus as soon as possible.

Pictured: Paramilitary police officers and security staff wearing protective face masks stand guard next to the closed Xinfadi market, in Fengtai district, Beijing, China, 14 June 2020

Pictured: Paramilitary police officers and security staff wearing protective face masks stand guard next to the closed Xinfadi market, in Fengtai district, Beijing, China, 14 June 2020

A woman waits for the delivery of goods she ordered online in the Yilanyuan residential area which is under lockdown after a new COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak near the closed Xinfadi Market, in Beijing on June 14, 2020

A woman waits for the delivery of goods she ordered online in the Yilanyuan residential area which is under lockdown after a new COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak near the closed Xinfadi Market, in Beijing on June 14, 2020

Monday also saw the closure of all indoor sport and entertainment venues in Beijing, and players and coaches from the Beijing Super League football team were all tested and given the week off as their training camp is in the same area of the city as the outbreak.

'The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe,' Beijing spokesman Xu Hejian warned at a press conference. 'Right now we have to take strict measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.' 

Taxis and car-hailing services have been banned from taking people out of the city and the number of passengers on buses, trains and subways will also be limited and all are required to wear masks.

China had relaxed many of its coronavirus controls after the ruling Communist Party in March declared victory over the virus, which was first detected the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

In response to the new outbreak Beijing suspended Monday's planned restart of some primary schools and reversed the relaxation of some social isolation measures.  

Pictured: A resident wearing a face mask to curb the spread of the coronavirus browses meat products at a supermarket in Beijing, Monday, June 15, 2020

Pictured: A resident wearing a face mask to curb the spread of the coronavirus browses meat products at a supermarket in Beijing, Monday, June 15, 2020

Pictured: A vendor wearing a mask to curb the spread of the coronavirus sells vegetables at an open air market in Beijing on Monday, June 15, 2020

Pictured: A vendor wearing a mask to curb the spread of the coronavirus sells vegetables at an open air market in Beijing on Monday, June 15, 2020

Several districts in Beijing reinstated security checkpoints, ordered residents be tested and closed schools on Monday in response to the unexpected resurgence of COVID-19. 

The city reported 36 new domestic cases yesterday, all of which were linked to the Xinfadi trading hub.

The Huaxiang area of Fengtai District, where the Xinfadi market is, has been classified as a 'high risk' place for COVID-19 while another 22 areas in the city are at 'medium risk'.

The boss of the Xinfadi market on Saturday told reporters that researchers had found traces of the novel coronavirus on a chopping board used to cut imported salmon. 

The market was shut in the early hours of Saturday to be disinfected. Officials said they were also rectifying relevant hygienic issues.

The city's health officials claimed that the virus was likely to have been brought into the city from Europe.

A spokesperson from the Beijing Municipal Health Commission said yesterday that health workers had given nucleic acid tests to 76,499 people and 59 of them had been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Pictured: People wearing protective face masks to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus line up outside a health checkup center to get a nucleic acid test in Beijing, Monday, June 15, 2020

Pictured: People wearing protective face masks to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus line up outside a health checkup center to get a nucleic acid test in Beijing, Monday, June 15, 2020

Pictured: A person wearing a protective face mask to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus walks by people lining up outside a health center to get the nucleic acid test in Beijing, Monday, June 15, 2020

Pictured: A person wearing a protective face mask to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus walks by people lining up outside a health center to get the nucleic acid test in Beijing, Monday, June 15, 2020

South Korea has also been battling to prevent a resurgence of the virus, reporting 34 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. 

Half were found in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area where health officials have been scrambling to stem transmissions linked to leisure and religious activities and low-income workers who couldn't afford to stay home.

Hundreds of recent cases have been linked to nightspots, church gatherings, a huge e-commerce warehouse and door-to-door salespeople amid an erosion of citizen vigilance.

Despite concerns, the Seoul government has so far resisted calls to reimpose stronger social distancing guidelines after they were eased in April, fearing further damage to the fragile economy.

In New Zealand, two cases were detected in people who had traveled to the United Kingdom. Until Tuesday, the country had gone more than three weeks without any new cases and had declared that everybody who had contracted the virus had recovered, aside from the 22 people who died.

China slams Hong Kong scientist who suggests the number of coronavirus cases in Hubei could be 32 times what officials claim

A Hong Kong scientist is facing criticism in China after claiming that the real COVID-19 infection number in former epicentre Hubei could be 2.2million, or 32 times the government's official toll.

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung and his team from the University of Hong Kong announced the finding after analysing samples from Hong Kong people returning from the province of Hubei.

But their study has been condemned by China's state media, which questioned if Prof Yuen was helping the United States smear Beijing over the pandemic.

Prof Yuen, a microbiologist, and his team collected the blood samples of 452 Hong Kong resident after they returned to the city from Hubei in early March, according to their university

Their research discovered that 17 of them, or 3.8 per cent, carried antibodies against COVID-19.

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung (pictured) and his team from the University of Hong Kong said that 2.2million Hubei residents could have contracted COVID-19 in a study this month.  They analysed the blood samples of 452 Hong Kong resident who returned from Hubei in March

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung (pictured) and his team from the University of Hong Kong said that 2.2million Hubei residents could have contracted COVID-19 in a study this month.  They analysed the blood samples of 452 Hong Kong resident who returned from Hubei in March

After applying the antibody rate to the entire population of Hubei, which stands at 58.1million, the team found out that some 2.2million residents should have caught the bug by early March.

Prof Yuen and his team published their study earlier this month on The Lancet Microbe, an open-access journal.  

The official infection figure of Hubei, however, is significantly lower. 

The provincial government said a total of 67,802 had tested positive for the virus as of March 31 while the latest infection figure is 68,135.

This means the Hong Kong team's finding is 32 times higher than Hubei government's number either from March or today.  

The researchers' scientific endeavour was criticised China's state-run newspaper The Global Times yesterday. 

The newspaper raised the question if Prof Yuen was 'the most powerful foreign aid' for the United States, suggesting that he conducted the study to assist Washington.

The Trump administration has accused Beijing of covering up the true scale of the coronavirus outbreak and the origins of the pathogen - allegations Beijing has firmly rejected.

The Global Times report challenged the motives of Prof Yuen's study, citing a Facebook post written by Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a pro-Beijing politician in Hong Kong.

Mr Ng accused Prof Yuen of blackmailing authorities by 'politicising science and public opinion'.

He slammed the scientist for using 400-odd samples to deduce the number of cases of the whole Hubei, instead of resorting to the official figure from the government. 

'If calculated like this, China has 1.4billion people, so shouldn't there be 53million infections? If the mainland people can still be so calm and carry on returning to work with such a shocking number, then it is not to demonise but deify the Communist Party,' Mr Ng wrote on his Facebook account last Friday.

On China's state-controlled social media platform Weibo, some users have even called Prof Yuen 'han jian', a derogatory term for a race traitor to the Han Chinese.

The COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, which is the capital of Hubei province.

More than 433,000 people have died of the deadly disease worldwide, and over 7.9million have fallen ill.

The Chinese National Health Commission has reported a total of 83,181 coronavirus infections and 4,634 deaths as of today.

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Philippine officials, meanwhile, have reimposed a strict lockdown on the central city of Cebu and retained quarantine restrictions in Manila for another two weeks as infections continued to spike.

'The battle with COVID isn't over,' Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said.

In the United States, Vice President Mike Pence encouraged governors to highlight the 'good news' around efforts to fight the virus despite several states reporting a rise in infections, which could intensify as people return to work and venture out during the summer.

Pence said in a private call with governors that except for a few places, the U.S. is seeing strong drops in virus-related hospitalization and mortality rates. In audio of the call obtained by The Associated Press, Pence urged governors to make it clear to residents that 'there´s a lot of really, really good news.'

White House officials have played down the severity of the virus surge in places like Arizona and Texas. On Monday, the nation´s second-most-populated state set a one-day high in hospitalizations of coronavirus patients for the seventh time in eight days. Arizona´s hospitals were at about 82% capacity.

Meanwhile, Germany and France dropped border checks nearly two weeks after Italy opened its frontiers. Greece welcomed visitors Monday with passengers on flights from other European countries not having to undergo compulsory coronavirus tests.

The European Union´s 27 nations and other European states aren't expected to start reopening to visitors from outside the continent until at least the beginning of July and possibly later.

Spain allowed thousands of Germans to fly to its Balearic Islands without a 14-day quarantine in a pilot program designed to help authorities gauge what´s needed against possible virus flare-ups.

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