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The Second Wave / COVID-19 in Beijing

After 51 COVID-free days, Beijing is experiencing China’s most significant outbreak of COVID-19 since February. The new outbreak has occurred despite rigorous testing, control, and quarantine measures. For this reason, this outbreak has worrying implications for the control of coronavirus globally
douglas news network beijing second wave

DR DOUG QUARRY, MBBS MSc (Community Health)

After 51 COVID-free days, Beijing is experiencing China’s most significant outbreak of COVID-19 since February. The new outbreak has occurred despite rigorous testing, control, and quarantine measures. For this reason, this outbreak has worrying implications for the control of coronavirus globally.

Outbreak details

The current outbreak began when a man with no history of recent travel visited a doctor on 10 June with a fever and chills. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and was hospitalised the following day. Officials think he, or a close contact, was infected at the Xinfadi Agricultural Wholesale Market where thousands of tonnes of vegetables, fruit and meat change hands each day.

Since then, more than 356,000 people have been tested, and 137 cases confirmed. Thirty-one new cases were diagnosed on 17 June, four more than the day before.

Nuanced response

Beijing has adopted a targeted approach to control the outbreak. The city has applied different degrees of restrictions on people from different areas based on their risk level. This contrasts with the sweeping lockdown imposed on Wuhan and more recently cities in the north-east.

Interprovincial travel has been restricted: 40% of flights in and out of Beijing have been cancelled and several interprovincial bus services suspended.

Cases probably exported to other cities and provinces.

Hebei, Liaoning and Sichuan provinces have discovered new coronavirus cases in recent days probably linked to the Beijing outbreak.


Cases probably exported to other cities and provinces

Hebei, Liaoning and Sichuan provinces have discovered new coronavirus cases in recent days probably linked to the Beijing outbreak.

The future

Wu Zunyou, Chief Epidemiologist with China’s CDC has said that the trend of confirmed cases in the next few days will be crucial for determining the course of the outbreak.

Discussion

It is accepted that COVID-19 outbreaks often start in an area well before being detected. This was the case in Lombardy and New York where, because of late control efforts, ICU’s later became overwhelmed.

This outbreak in Beijing, which probably started in April or May, clearly demonstrates how a previously virus-free area can quickly become an epidemic centre if the virus is introduced (or re-introduced) and is not quickly detected.


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