(Update 1: rewrites with new headline, lede, information throughout)
Beijing, June 15 (efe-epa).- Beijing’s municipal government has sacked a district chief and two other officials for not preventing the fresh COVID-19 outbreak in the biggest wholesale food market of the capital, Chinese state media reported Monday.
Deputy head of Fengtai district, Zhou Yuqing, was ousted from office for failing in his duty in prevention and control work, according to the Beijing Daily.
Party secretary of Huaxiang town in Fengtai district, Wang Hua, and general manager of the Xinfadi Agricultural Products Wholesale Market Company, Zhang Yuelin, have also been removed.
State-run Xinhua news agency said that tests on 76,499 people were conducted on Sunday in the Chinese capital, resulting in 59 testing positive.
Health authorities in the capital reported on Monday 36 new confirmed cases on Sunday, the day 79 people were still receiving medical treatment, while seven asymptomatic cases were under observation after the outbreak was detected.
While the majority of new cases in China in recent months have involved those who tested positive after returning home from abroad, at the end of last week local authorities reported new cases with no recent travel history outside of Beijing after two months of no infections in the capital.
The novel coronavirus is believed to have originated at a market that sold wildlife in the city of Wuhan late last year.
On Sunday night, municipal health authorities announced that eight new cases linked to the Xinfadi market were detected, with the market shut down on Saturday.
Huaxiang in Fengtai raised its health emergency level to “high risk” making it the only area in China to have that level of emergency. Another six areas of the capital have raised their alert level to medium.
The outbreak in the capital came a week after Beijing lowered its health emergency level from two to three on June 6.
The capital’s main Xinfadi wholesale food market covers 112 hectares and has 1,500 employees, along with more than 4,000 stalls.
All staff and people who have had contact with the market should undergo testing in one of the 98 designated facilities in Beijing, which combined, can carry out more than 90,000 tests in a day.
The city has intensified inspection in the markets selling fresh produce such as frozen pork, beef, lamb and poultry products, and monitor other businesses such as supermarkets and restaurants to ensure produce is not contaminated.
Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan on Sunday urged decisive measures to stop the spread of the fresh outbreak, along with strict epidemiological investigations and a comprehensive tracing to identify and control the source of infection.
Meanwhile, public health experts Monday assured that the fresh outbreak in Beijing would not lead to a second wave of the epidemic in China, however they said that it was a warning to change the control policies in place.
On Monday the total active cases in China stood at 177 – two of them in critical condition – and some 83,181 cases have been reported in the country along with 4,634 deaths since the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The fresh asymptomatic cases – which China does not count as confirmed cases – stood at 18, 11 of them imported. So far, there are 112 such cases under medical observation, of which 62 are people who came from outside the country.
In the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong, so far 1,109 cases have been reported along with four deaths, while in Taiwan, 443 COVID-19 cases have been detected, claiming seven lives. EFE-EPA