On June 11, Beijing's confirmation of a COVID-19 case ended the 55 days wherein the city did not report any local transmission. Since then, the outbreak has spiked and the city has responded with fierce determination to rein it in.
As of June 27, Beijing has tested 356,000 people and overall there are 137 new cases. According to Xinhua, Beijing went on total lockdown after the sudden increase in cases this month. Residential compounds were locked down again, all schools are closed and the flights going in and out of the city have been canceled.
Were the new cases linked to fish?
All of the infections in the city were linked to a wholesale food market that is now shut down temporarily. The link to the market as compared to the seafood market in Wuhan where the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic took place, there was also speculation that the virus arrived in fish that were imported from Europe.
However, the real source of the coronavirus outbreak in Beijing is still not known. In mid-April, the city reported its last case of COVID-19 transmission.
The current outbreak began when a man with no history of travel in the past few months visited a doctor on June 10 with chills and fever. He then tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized.
The officials think that he or a close contact was infected at the Xinfadi Agricultural Wholesale Market, which is a 112-hectare complex with 2000 stalls and sells seafood, produces, and meat.
Every day around 10,000 customers and workers are in the area. This then led to the effort to test customers, market workers, and residents nearby the area.
Medical experts have reported that the surfaces that they tested in the market are positive of the coronavirus. They found a cutting board that was used for salmon that was positive of the virus but they did not discover any evidence that it infected fish.
The medical experts think that the packaging was contaminated during processing before the fish was shipped to China from Europe.
According to China Daily, the sequencing shows the reason behind the new coronavirus outbreak in the city. The report stated that it may have been from those who returned from Europe.
Yang Peng, an official with the Center for Disease Prevention and Control in Beijing, stated that the meat that was imported from Europe may have been the culprit. He said that the visitor or market employee may have been infected and unknowingly spread the virus to other people.
Where it started
A veterinary epidemiologist at the City University of Hong Kong, Dirk Pfeiffer does not believe that the virus arrived at the market through fish delivery. He said that it is more possible that the virus as brought in by infected humans who went to the market and spread it, as reported by Science Mag.
Back in January, a lot of the earliest COVID-19 cases were connected to another market, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China.
Many scientists believe that COVID-19 originated in bats and have passed through an intermediate host before jumping to humans.
Pfeiffer added that thousands of people go to the market and hundreds of people work there. The markets are also not hygienic and it can contribute to the increased risk for the virus. Markets also have humid, chilled air that provides an environment in which the virus can thrive.