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No State is COVID-19 free – FG

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CHINA scrapped more than 1,200 flights in and out of capital Beijing on Wednesday as it grappled with an “extremely grave” fresh outbreak of the coronavirus linked to a food market.

The number of confirmed cases in the capital has shot up to 137 within the last week after two months of no cases, and four other provinces have revealed cases linked to the Beijing cluster.

Officials closed 11 markets and all schools — most of which had already reopened — and banned residents of “medium- or high risk” areas of the city from leaving.

The official threat level from the contagion was also raised, from a level 3 to a 2 — just 10 days after it had been lowered.

“This has truly rung an alarm bell for us,” Cai Qi, the Communist Party Secretary of Beijing, told a standing committee meeting of the “extremely grave” concerns at the fresh outbreak.

The website of the Communist Party’s Global Times said 1,255 flights to and from the capital’s two major airports were scrapped by Wednesday morning. That accounts for 67 per cent of outgoing flights and 68% of incoming flights to the city of 20 million people, the newspaper said.

“The risk of the outbreak spreading is huge and controlling it is difficult,” Pang Xinghuo, a senior disease control official, told a news conference. [We] can’t rule out the possibility the number of cases will persist for a period of time,” she warned.

Traces of the virus were found on a salmon chopping board at Xinfadi food market, raising fears over the hygiene of the imported fish, AFP said. Many restaurants and supermarkets have stopped selling imported salmon over the unfounded fears.

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist with the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told state broadcaster CCTV on Monday that the pathogen “resembles the virus strains in Europe the most, which, however, doesn’t mean that it came from Europe.”

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