The New COVID-19 Outbreak in Beijing Caused by a Virus Strain From Europe

Within one week more than 180 cases of Covid-19 were discovered in Beijing. The Chinese capital is once again stepping up surveillance of the epidemic, after almost 55 days of no new infections.

Xinfadi Wet Market

Xinfadi Wet Market

More than a hundred new cases have been discovered in Beijing, all linked to one of the largest fresh produce markets in the Chinese capital, according to the health authorities. These cases give further cause for concern to the Chinese authorities, who consider the situation to be “extremely serious”. However, compared to the figures for the total population of the Asian giant, this outbreak should not be so alarming. And it is still insignificant compared with the US situation. The news is indeed a shock for the Chinese government, an economic expert told the British daily The Financial Times.  Beijing fears a setback when the country begins to return to economic and social normality. The authorities have decided to isolate several districts, close schools, suspend air traffic, and conduct large-scale tests.

Read Also: The Chinese Now Saying That the Virus Did Not Start in Wet Market

The virus strain from the Xinfadi market is European

32 of the 116 cases reported in Beijing by 16 June 2020 were related to the Xinfadi fresh produce market. The presence of SARS-Cov-2 was detected in a European farmed salmon stock. Imports from Europe were immediately banned on 17 June. Last Saturday, Zeng Guang, senior scientist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, told the local press that the genetic sequencing of the locally collected virus showed that it was not a strain circulating in China.

The Global Times explained that the virus came from a cutting board of an imported salmon seller, using information collected from a news website, Jiemian.com. It points out that 80,000 tons of the species enter China annually from Chile, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Australia, and Canada. There is some concern among consumers in the capital, where salmon meat, is highly desirable about its safety.

Read Also: China Says Coronavirus Didn’t Jump to Humans at Wuhan Seafood Market

The country’s supermarkets have withdrawn meat and fish imported from Europe from their offerings. The local representation of the Norwegian fish and seafood industry in Beijing (China is Norway’s largest customer) already sees the dissatisfaction of Chinese buyers. And some European officials fear that Europe will be singled out and that its exports of fresh and frozen products to China will be affected. But the link between salmon and the virus has not been clearly proven, according to another official from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, quoted by the South China Morning Post.

According to the latest news, the genome of the virus has been published and sent by the Centre for Disease Control to the WHO: It is thought to have originated in Europe, but it corresponds to an ancient strain. The virus could have come from Europe through frozen food, or it could have been on the Xinfadi market long ago, where it would have taken advantage of the humidity and darkness to survive. The Xinfadi is the largest market in Asia in its category. It is located in a southern district of the Chinese capital.

References

Salmon import ban and partial lockdown for Beijing after new Covid-19 cases in Chinese capital

Coronavirus: China’s freeze on imported salmon stirs concern about wider impact on European food trade

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