The city, which has kept a tight lid on information since the virus began spreading earlier this year, will now test ten of thousands of close contacts after its latest outbreak.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) boss of Beijing city, Cai Qi, announced on June 13 that the capital “has already entered an abnormal period” following the uptick in virus cases.
It should be noted that local governments in China have been documented to underreport infections.
Meanwhile, Chu Junwei, acting director of the Fengtai district government in Beijing, announced that the district would launch “wartime mechanisms” and set up a command center to contain the virus.
Also on June 13, four neighborhoods across Beijing were designated as “medium-risk regions” for virus spread.
Pang Xinghuo, vice director of the Beijing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said at a daily press conference on June 14 that eight people in the city were diagnosed with the virus from midnight to 7 a.m.
Pang said all eight cases are related to the Xinfadi Food Market, a wholesale market located in Fengtai district that sells vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, and grains.
Ms. Li, a Beijing resident who lives close to the market, said her friends and relatives messaged her about more than 20 locations in the area that are considered high risk for virus infection.
“I think the outbreak must be out of control now,” she said in a phone interview.
Hours earlier, the Beijing Municipal Health Commission announced on its website that there were 36 newly diagnosed virus patients on June 13.
Combined with officially announced cases on June 11 and 12, 51 people were diagnosed with the virus, all of them who either worked or shopped at the Xinfadi market, according to authorities.
The virus has also spread to another region of China. Liaoning Province, to the north of Beijing, reported two diagnosed patients on June 13. They had traveled from Beijing to Shenyang—Liaoning’s capital—on June 11 for a business trip.
They are colleagues of two staffers at the China Meat Research Center who were previously diagnosed on June 12.
On the evening of June 14, Beijing city ordered all people who had visited the Xinfadi market since May 30 to report themselves to local authorities. They and their family members must take nucleic acid tests and be isolated at home for 14 days.
Earlier in the day, several locals shared videos on social media and said all individuals who worked at the Xinfadi market were forced to be isolated at hotel-modified quarantine centers for 14 days.
“Twenty thousand to thirty thousand people are being taken away by buses. They will be isolated at hotels,” a person said as he took a video of a large crowd in Beijing.
On the Chinese social media platform Weibo, many netizens expressed concerns about the quarantine expenses, which they must pay for themselves. They said expenses would total 8,000 yuan ($1,130) to pay for accommodation, meals, and testing kits.
Some Chinese netizens also posted that their mobile-app-generated health codes were green while they were in Beijing, but turned red after they left the city by train. A red code means the user must be isolated for 14 days at a quarantine center upon arrival at their destination.
The city hasn’t yet issued a lockdown, but on June 13, the China National Grand Theater, Beijing Lama Temple, Tianqiao Art Center, and several other tourist sites were closed.
The Epoch Times called the intercity bus station, train ticket office, and flight ticket office in Beijing on June 14. The Xinfadi Bus Station was closed, but other services were still operating normally.
But a train ticket seller warned: “Now you can buy the train ticket, but we can’t be sure you can board a train tomorrow. [The authorities] may stop train operations,” he said.
Also on June 14, several cities in Shanxi, Liaoning, and Heilongjiang provinces announced an alert for local residents to avoid visiting Beijing. They also required that all travelers arriving from Beijing must be quarantined for 14 days.