Beijing reports zero virus cases for first time since new outbreak

People wearing face masks ride scooters and bicycles in Beijing on July 6, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (AFP) - Beijing on Tuesday (July 7) reported zero new coronavirus cases for the first time since the emergence of a cluster in the Chinese capital in June that prompted fears of a domestic second wave.

A total of 335 people have been infected since a cluster emerged at the city's massive Xinfadi wholesale market in early June.

Beijing's health commission said on Tuesday it detected only one asymptomatic case the previous day, which China does not include in its confirmed cases counts.

While Chinese authorities are still investigating the cause of the latest outbreak, the virus was detected on chopping boards used to handle imported salmon at Xinfadi market, prompting a ban on certain imports and increased scrutiny of foreign food suppliers.

The Beijing government has tested more than 11 million people for Covid-19 since June 11 - roughly half the city's population, officials said at a press conference on Monday.

Residents lined up in the summer heat at testing venues across the city in June, with hundreds of thousands of samples collected each day.

Localised lockdowns across the city have been eased in recent days, with people living in areas of the city considered "low risk" now allowed to travel freely again.

Beijing's outbreak is "stabilising and improving," Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the city's centre for disease control, told reporters on Monday.

China had largely brought the deadly outbreak under control before the new Beijing cluster was detected last month.

The government has since also imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in neighbouring Hebei province to contain a fresh cluster there, adopting the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the epicentre of Wuhan city earlier this year.

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