Source of Latest Virus Outbreak in Beijing Remains a Mystery as Authorities Scramble to Contain Spread

Source of Latest Virus Outbreak in Beijing Remains a Mystery as Authorities Scramble to Contain Spread
A medical worker takes a swab sample at a test station in Beijing on July 6, 2020. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Nicole Hao
The Chinese regime has backtracked from its initial theory that the recent CCP virus resurgence in Beijing was caused by contaminated imported salmon.
Wu Zunyou, a chief epidemic disease specialist at China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told state-run newspaper Beijing News on July 6 that his team researched this second-wave outbreak in Beijing and concluded that the virus entered the local Xinfadi market in the middle of May. The Xinfadi market, a sprawling complex of warehouses and trading halls spanning an area the size of nearly 160 soccer pitches.

“It’s possible that an infected person brought [the virus] to the Xinfadi market, or a contaminated product from an epidemic area brought it,” Wu said.

Wu said the first patient in the second wave, officially announced by authorities on June 11, likely contracted the virus in late May or early June.

Wu’s words contradicted officials’ previous claims that the virus was introduced via frozen salmon imported from Norway, citing a sample on a cutting board for processing salmon that tested positive for COVID-19.

Xinfadi Market

Ms. Li operates a seafood store in Beijing. She told The Epoch Times that the seafood from Hubei Province—the region where the virus first broke in late 2019—was very cheap this year, and thus attracted wholesalers to purchase seafood from there.

“For example, the cooked crayfish is 28 yuan per 500 gram (about $3.62 per pound),” Li said. She said similar products from other regions are around 60 yuan per 500 gram (about $7.76 per pound).

Li said that many truck drivers at Xinfadi have tested positive for the virus. She believes that the truck drivers may have contracted the virus when they traveled to Hubei to pick up the seafood.

Xinfadi employee Cai Liansheng posted on the Weibo social media platform that the market’s chairman Zhang Yuxi had encouraged them to purchase from Hubei since the end of February. Since then, the market has purchased more and more frozen food products from there.

Cai also shared that another market, the Jingshen Seafood Market, is the largest imported seafood market in Beijing. But no one at the Jingshen market has been diagnosed with COVID-19, thus raising doubts about the authorities’ claim that the virus came from imported salmon.

Jingshen is located in Fengtai district and has about 800 shops, mostly selling seafood. The deputy director of Fengtai government, Zhang Jie, said on June 13 that no one from Jingshen was infected.
Xinfadi chairman Zhang also confirmed that at the shop where the COVID-positive cutting board sample came from, the salmon was sourced from Jingshen.

Mass Testing, Quarantine

The second wave has caused mass panic. Authorities have taken drastic measures in an attempt to contain its spread.
Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing CDC, announced at a July 7 press conference that authorities have performed more than 11 million nucleic acid tests since June 11.
People wait in line to undergo COVID-19 swab tests at a test station in Beijing on July 6, 2020. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
People wait in line to undergo COVID-19 swab tests at a test station in Beijing on July 6, 2020. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, the city released over 5,000 people from quarantine on July 7 after they tested negative for the past 14 days. But authorities said there are thousands more who were still being isolated because they were close contacts of confirmed CCP virus patients, and could present symptoms in the future.

Local residents are suffering the brunt of economic losses as a result of the pandemic.

Streets have been emptied, while there has been an increase in the number of homeless, according to interviews with locals.

In Haidian district, a family of five live inside a small barbershop that they operate. The mother and grandparents take care of customers in the daytime, while the father has taken up odd jobs outside. At night, the family closes the shop and sleeps inside.

“We are very stressed. He [the father] can’t earn enough money, and we rely on this shop,” the grandfather said.

The nationwide college entrance exam period began on July 7, with education authorities enacting strict measures to prevent the virus from spreading among test-takers. All students taking the exam have to report their health status to school every day for the 14 days preceding the test date, all students must wear face masks while taking the test, infected students are not allowed to take the test unless they gain special permission from health authorities, and students who are under mandatory quarantine will take the test at special sites.

Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.
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