China cover-up: BBC reporter in Beijing fears COVID-19 number ‘doesn’t reflect facts’

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Stephen McDonell pointed to the Chinese Government’s warning about the “extremely severe” situation in regards to the 106 new infections in the capital over five days. He said the reaction from the ruling Communist Party meant that they were either being “super cautious” in trying to stem the spread of the virus or they had not come clean on the actual infection rate. His warning comes as authorities in the capital locked down residential compounds as fears of a second wave of COVID-19 mounted.

The surge in new cases has been linked to the Xinfadi seafood supermarket in the Fengtai district in the south of the city.

106 cases have been reported in the space of five days.

Each day thousands of tonnes of meat, vegetables and fruit change hands at the site.

Mr McDonell tweeted: “Additional Beijing coronavirus prevention measures: hundreds of thousands of people who’ve been inside the XinFaDi Market (plus several other smaller markets) in the Chinese capital in recent weeks are to report themselves and effectively commence home quarantine. #covid19

“Beijing Govt spokesman Xu Hejian described the city’s coronavirus situation as ‘extremely severe’.

“That either means the relatively low infection tally doesn’t reflect the facts on the ground or they’re being super cautious, trying to mobilise the population to stop the spread.”

Health officials in Beijing said the risk of the outbreak worsening was “very high”.

Thirty-six of the 49 new cases announced on Monday were linked to the Xinfadi market.

The wholesale market was closed on Saturday after it was identified as being at the centre of the latest outbreak.

Workers at the site tested positive for coronavirus and the disease was also found in the environment.

The market has since been disinfected.

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Photos posted of the market online show sea creatures crammed into small tanks.

One woman said she received a visit from officials on Saturday hours after the virus was detected at the market.

She said fences aimed at curbing people’s movements were erected in her neighbourhood shortly afterwards.

She said: “A market in Beijing was shut at 3am after coronavirus was traced there.

“By 10am authorities visited my house 15km away, going door to door asking if we’ve been to the market or left the city.

“Walls removed in the Hutongs 1wk ago are back as of 9am.”

Sales of salmon have been halted in Beijing after traces of the viral disease were found on chopping boards at Xinfadi market.

Twenty-two neighbourhoods were deemed to be medium risk by Monday.

And people deemed to be high risk – if they have had contact with an infected person – have been banned from leaving the city.

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