China has carried out 356,000 coronavirus tests in four days, the regime said today as it battles to contain an alarming new outbreak in Beijing which it admits could ‘last for a while’.
Top diseases official Pang Xinghuo admitted that ‘the risk of spreading the virus is high and it’s hard to control’ after 137 cases were discovered in five days in a new wave of infections linked to a food market.
China has imposed drastic new travel restrictions and quarantined 27 neighbourhoods in the capital but ‘currently, the epidemic situation in Beijing is still on the rise,’ said Pang.
The outbreak has been traced to the massive Xinfadi wholesale market, which supplies 80 per cent of the city’s meat and vegetables and has now been shut down.
Zhang Qiang, a city official in Beijing, said 356,000 residents had been tested for coronavirus since Saturday including market workers, customers and nearby residents.
China has also halted imports from European salmon suppliers after state media linked the outbreak to chopping boards used to cut up salmon at the Xinfadi market.
Official media has already opened fire on the ‘sinful’ salmon industry in Norway, and Beijing supermarkets have removed salmon from their shelves after officials claimed the outbreak could have come from Europe.
However, Norway has denied any link to its salmon industry and experts say it is unlikely that the fish itself would carry the disease.
The new outbreak came as US researchers claimed that China’s real coronavirus death toll could be 14 times higher than official statistics show.