Half a million people locked in as Beijing battles new virus cluster

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New cases in Beijing have raised concerns about a resurgence of the virus in China (File)

Beijing:

China imposed a strict ban on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a new coronavirus epidemic on Sunday, as authorities warned that it would soon “relax” on the new group of case.

After China had largely brought the virus under control, hundreds of people were infected in Beijing and cases appeared in the neighboring province of Hebei.

Health officials said on Sunday that Anxin County – about 150 kilometers (90 miles) from Beijing – would be “fully enclosed and controlled”, the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in Wuhan city earlier this year.

Now only one person per family will be allowed to go out once a day to buy basic necessities such as food and medicine, the epidemic prevention working group said in a statement.

Previously, the county had been subject to certain travel restrictions, but now people are only allowed to leave their homes for medical treatment, the statement said.

The move comes after 14 more cases of the virus were reported in the past 24 hours in Beijing, bringing the total to 311 since mid-June.

The epidemic was first detected in the vast Xinfadi food market in Beijing, which supplies much of the city’s fresh produce and has raised concerns about the security of the food supply chain.

Companies in Anxin County had supplied freshwater fish to the market, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

Some 12 cases of the new coronavirus have been discovered in the region, including 11 linked to the Xinfadi market, reported the state-run Global Times.

The new cases in Beijing have raised 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 couriers in the past week.

The tests have now expanded to include all employees of beauty salons and hair salons in the city, the Global Times said.

Beijing city official Xu Hejian told reporters on Saturday, “There is no place to relax.”

City officials urged people not to leave town, closed schools again and locked up dozens of residential complexes to eliminate the virus.

But Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiology expert at the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters last week that the new outbreak had been “brought under control”, and authorities lifted a seven-week lockdown on Friday to seven communities in Beijing.

(This story has not been edited by GalacticGaming staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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