A recent coronavirus outbreak in Beijing has been brought under control, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday.
The Chinese capital saw 158 new COVID-19 infections in the past week, with nearly all the cases linked to the Xinfadi Market in the southern district of Fengtai.Authorities raised the city’s emergency level to combat the outbreak, including school closures, residential compound lockdowns, restrictions on leaving the city and the grounding of hundreds of flights. “In those countries that already contained the virus…, there definitely will be smaller outbreaks coming out, and I think this is another example of that,” Dr. Jennifer Huang Bouey, a senior policy researcher and the Tang Chair in China Policy Studies at the RAND Corporation, told The Media Line.Bouey said China was already on high alert for a spike in cases, and officials were prepared when daily infections started to rise.“They react very strongly to any outbreak. Especially in Beijing,” Bouey said. “Beijing is the city that they want to protect the most.”There were initial fears in China that the latest outbreak was spread by imported salmon from Norway, causing supermarkets and restaurants to clear their shelves, and importers to halt shipments. However, experts say there is no evidence that the coronavirus can be passed from fish to humans. Elizabeth Economy, CV Starr senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told The Media Line that politics plays a role in Beijing’s response to fresh outbreaks, particularly since President Xi Jinping declared victory over the coronavirus in March.“When outbreaks have occurred in other parts of the country, Beijing has claimed that they are ‘imported’ cases brought in by foreigners or overseas Chinese returning from infected areas, thereby signaling that the Chinese government is not to blame,” she said. But it is not just the recent outbreak in Beijing demonstrating that the world is still very much battling a disease that has infected approximately 8,489,000 people and claimed the lives of 453,981, according to Friday’s update from the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker.Like Xi, US President Donald Trump raised the mission-accomplished banner before the fight was finished. On Tuesday, six US states reported record increases in new cases – Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas. A Reuters news agency analysis found that 17 states saw new cases rise last week.The spike in cases comes as states lift measures put in place to curb the spread of the pandemic.“There’s a lot of concern that the reopenings have been too aggressive and have not paid enough attention to things that we know can control the virus – restricting indoor gatherings of large numbers of people, wearing masks…, keeping social distancing of six feet or more, washing hands,” Eric Schneider, senior vice president for policy and research at The Commonwealth Fund, told The Media Line.“When you are sending a strong signal that you are just reopening the economy and people should just go back to their usual business, they tend to do that because it’s inconvenient to wear masks [and] distancing is hard, so I think they in some ways set the population up for these outbreaks unfortunately,” Schneider said.And it is not just China and the United States that are grappling with an increase in coronavirus cases.Saudi Arabia is seeing a spike, with five-straight days of more than 4,000 new infections reported, including Wednesday’s record high of 4,919, immediately followed by the second-highest daily total since the outbreak began in the kingdom, with Thursday’s 4,757 new cases.“These spikes are very concerning. I’d say alarming,” Schneider said. “They’re not the second wave. They are actually part of the first wave.”Read more at The Media Line.