Footage has shown scores of mask-wearing patients packing hospital corridors and forming long queues for coronavirus tests in scenes said to have been triggered by Beijing’s explosive new outbreak.
Despite being 965 kilometres away from the Chinese capital, Xijing Hospital in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province in north-western China, has been requesting that all inpatient and outpatient visitors be given nucleic acid tests, local residents have reported online.
Videos show patients packed shoulder to shoulder in the enclosed hospital corridors, with no possibility of social distancing as they wait to be called for swabs.
Similar scenes were seen in Wuhan at the height of the outbreak before the city was put on lockdown.
Xi’an, a city of 12 million, has reported 308 locally transmitted cases in three days since the start of the outbreak.
The provincial health commission said it had recorded one additional imported case on June 17 – a passenger who had flown to Xi’an from Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, before testing positive during quarantine.
But fears over a potential second wave are growing as Beijing scrambles to contain its explosive new outbreak, which saw 158 new COVID-19 cases in just seven days.
Mainland China has 26 new confirmed coronavirus cases, down from 27 a day earlier, driven largely by the latest outbreak of COVID-19 in the Chinese capital.
Of the new infections on Saturday, 22 were in Beijing, the National Health Commission said in a statement, the same as a day earlier.
The infections are believed to have originated in Beijing Xinfadi Agricultural Produce Wholesale Market, which supplies 70 per cent of the city’s fresh fruit and vegetables, and is 10 times the size of Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market – the suspected epicentre of the pandemic.
Cities as far as Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in south-western China – some 1930 kilometres away – have recorded new cases which have since been traced to Xinfadi market in Beijing’s Fengtai District.
The city’s streak of zero cases lasted nearly two months before it was broken when a primary school pupil’s father tested positive for the virus on June 11.
The 52-year-old claimed to have no recent travel history and did not meet anyone from outside the capital.
The source of the latest outbreak has yet to be identified.
Some 32 neighbourhoods in Beijing are now listed as ‘medium risk’ as the city’s COVID-19 alert level was moved from two to three, placing gated communities on so-called ‘closed management’.
Those living in the districts are forbidden from leaving the capital as over 1000 flights are cancelled, and inbound and outbound train and bus journeys are also halted.
Huaxiang subdistrict in Fengtai, where the market is located, is the city’s only ‘high risk’ residential area so far.
Nursery, primary and secondary schools are shut, and the reopening of universities has been delayed.
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