Parts of China’s capital closed schools and ordered people tested for the coronavirus on Monday, while European countries opened their borders after a three-month long lockdown.
Until last week, Chinese officials had reported no new coronavirus cases in Beijing for nearly two months. But over the past four days, Beijing officials have confirmed 79 cases. The infections were linked to Xinfadi, a market that supplies much of the city’s meat and vegetables.
Xinfadi is more than 20 times larger than the seafood market, in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first identified.
The new cases have led Beijing officials to reestablish strong measures to control the spread of the virus. They include closing schools and sports centers, and requiring body temperature tests at offices, supermarkets, and public spaces.
Beijing residents were advised to avoid crowds and gathering in groups for meals. Some areas even sent officials to neighborhoods to identify people who had visited the Xinfadi market. Up to 90,000 residents are to be tested for the virus.
One Beijing official compared the measures to a “war-time” effort against the disease COVID-19. He said nearly 100,000 epidemic-control workers had entered the “battlefield.”
Governments in other parts of China warned people against non-essential travel to Beijing. They also set up quarantine requirements on visitors from the capital. And a government scientist suggested that the Xinfadi outbreak could have come from Europe.
Asia watches closely
In Japan, health officials said they were closely watching the latest Chinese investigation. Many restaurants in Japan depend on imported seafood, much of it from China. The officials noted, however, that they have not seen scientific evidence suggesting the virus could be spread through food.
South Korea is also seeking to prevent another outbreak. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, saying that 25 came from the Seoul area. At least 1,346 infections are linked to international arrivals, mostly South Koreans returning home from overseas. And officials are tracing infections linked to daily activities and religious gatherings.
India’s home minister offered 500 train cars for use as hospital as the country struggles to contain a sharp rise in infections. For a third day, the Indian health ministry reported an increase of more than 11,000 new infections nationwide.
Russia, which has recorded over 7,000 deaths from the virus, is behind only the United States and Brazil in the number of infections. Officials reported the number of cases increased by 8,246 in the past 24 hours to a total of 537,210.
Meanwhile, European countries have reopened their borders after a three-month coronavirus shutdown.
Germany and France suspended border inspections nearly two weeks after Italy reopened its borders. Greece also began welcoming visitors. Greek officials ended required coronavirus testing for passengers on flights from other European countries. Spain permitted thousands of Germans to fly to its Balearic Islands without a 14-day quarantine.
In Paris, restaurants and cafes reopened for the first time since the fast-spreading virus forced them to close on March 14. Parisians seemed to ignore face coverings and social distancing as they returned for a cup of coffee or something to eat. In a speech Sunday night, French President Emmanuel Macron said, “We will rediscover ... the art of living, our taste for freedom.” He added, “We will rediscover France.”
In the United States, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo criticized violations of virus restrictions. He also threatened to close businesses in areas where local governments failed to enforce the rules.
The governor identified Manhattan and Long Island as problem areas. “We are not kidding around with this,” Cuomo said Sunday. “You’re talking about jeopardizing people’s lives.”
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on Associated Press and Reuters news reports. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
lockdown - n. restricted access as a security measure
resident - n. someone who lives in a particular place
quarantine - n. the period of time in which a person is kept away from others to prevent the disease from spreading
outbreak - n. a sudden start or increase of disease
trace - v. to find out where something came from
meanwhile - adv. at or during the same time
not kidding - adj. used to emphasize the truth of a statement
jeopardize - v. put something or someone in danger