Beijing coronavirus second wave spreading ‘just like Wuhan’ as bug rips through filthy seafood market, experts warn
THE mutant strain of coronavirus which has rocked Beijing ripped through a food market just like it did in the outbreak city of Wuhan, a top expert has revealed.
The chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the claim as he revealed details of the probe into the worrying second wave of infections.
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Wu Zunyou said samples taken from the Xinfadi market in the Chinese capital revealed areas where seafood, beef and lamb were sold had more traces of the killer virus than in other sections.
The vast market – which is the size of 160 football pitches – has been identified as "ground zero" of the new outbreak and the first patient to be struck down bought fish there.
“The findings reminded us of the first outbreak of Covid-19 in Wuhan last year, which happened at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market,” Wu revealed.
The expert then pointed out the focus of the Wuhan investigation was the wild animal stalls, even though the seafood sellers were located right next to them.
“More seafood vendors were infected, followed by beef and lamb vendors,” he said of the Beijing market probe.
“The seafood vendors also showed symptoms earlier than others.”
It's suspected low temperatures and high humidity at the Xinfadi market were possibly contributing factors to the new strain thriving.
Samples taken from the Wuhan market in January showed the most severe signs were found in the section where wild animals and seafood were sold.
Wu said comparing the findings of the two investigations – in Wuhan and Beijing – provided a “direction to unravel the mystery”.
“Seafood involves water and frozen products – the low temperature and high humidity is suitable for the virus to survive,” he said.
“We need further analysis on why these stalls have become a centre of transmission.”
The Wuhan market hit the headlines earlier this year when it was linked to the original outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
At the centre of the alert was the Huanan Seafood Market – although it's still not known if that is where the outbreak actually started.
The bizarre site was home to traders selling a menagerie of animals including crocodiles, bats, rats and snakes destined for the dinner table.
Earlier today China released scientific ‘proof’ the mutant virus strain in Beijing came from Europe.
The claim comes as it released genome sequencing data for the new coronavirus responsible for the worrying new outbreak in the capital city.
And they were quick to point the virus's DNA proved the second wave had originated from outside their borders.
"According to preliminary genomic and epidemiological study results, the virus is from Europe, but it is different from the virus currently spreading in Europe," said Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official Zhang Yong.
"It's older than the virus currently spreading in Europe."
Zhang then said there were several possibilities as to how the virus ended up in China.
"It could have been hidden in imported frozen food products, or it was lurking in some dark and humid environment such as Xinfadi (a market), with the environment not having been disinfected or sterilised," revealed Zhang.
More than 350,000 Beijing residents are now being rounded up for testing and 21million are on lockdown as officials scramble to stop the devastating second wave.
Reports have suggested the city's outbreak may have begun as long ago as April and was spread by people who had mild or no symptoms.
Secretive China – under pressure to make the data public sooner rather than later – said it had now submitted its research to the World Health Organization.
Following the latest outbreak, the WHO said it had been informed by the Chinese of ongoing investigations into the source of the cluster and the extent of the infections.
It then called for the genetic sequences to be made public as soon as possible.
The genome sequencing has also been shared with the Global Influenza Data Initiative (GISAID), said the CDC.
Virus genome sequencing is a vital and rapidly-developing tool in the diagnosis of the disease Covid-19 and in understanding the spread and control of the new virus.
Details published on China's National Microbiology Data Center website revealed the Beijing genome data was based on three samples – two human and one environmental – collected on June 11.
That was the same day the Chinese capital reported its first new local Covid-19 infection in months.
In the eight days since, Beijing has reported a total of 183 cases, linked to the wholesale food centre of Xinfadi.
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