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Beijing schools closed again as city finds 31 more virus cases

Update: June, 17/2020 - 11:11


Authorities in the Chinese capital Beijing are rushing to contain a new outbreak of the coronavirus linked to a wholesale food market. — AFP/VNA Photo

BEIJING — Beijing shut all its schools again on Wednesday as the city reported 31 new coronavirus cases, with authorities in the Chinese capital rushing to curb an outbreak linked to a wholesale food market.

The new cases have raised fears of a second wave of infections as China had largely brought its domestic outbreak under control.

City authorities on Tuesday had also announced a travel ban for residents of "medium- or high-risk" areas of the city, while requiring other residents to take nucleic acid tests in order to leave the capital.

Meanwhile, all schools - which had mostly reopened - were ordered to close again and return to online classes.

"The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe," Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian warned at a press conference on Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of people in the city linked to the virus cluster - believed to have started in the capital's sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food market - are being tested for the virus, with almost 30 residential compounds in the city now under lockdown.

Beijing has now reported 137 infections over the last six days, with six new asymptomatic cases and three suspected cases on Wednesday, according to the city's health commission.

An additional two domestic cases, one in neighbouring Hebei province and another in Zhejiang, were reported by national authorities on Wednesday, while there were 11 imported cases.

Peru's coronavirus deaths

Peru's health ministry said on Tuesday that the hard-hit nation's coronavirus death toll had reached 7,056, the third-highest in Latin America after Brazil and Mexico.

Officials said the number of confirmed cases is now beyond 237,000 in Peru, which has been under a nationwide lockdown for three months.

With a population of 33 million, Peru has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in Latin America after Brazil.

Nevertheless, Health Minister Victor Zamora told reporters that the number of new cases has begun to decrease.

Peru's healthcare system is on the verge of collapse, with more than 10,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

Seventy per cent of Peru's cases have been reported in the Lima metropolitan area, home to a third of the country's population.

The death toll includes more than 200 inmates who caught the disease in Peru's overcrowded prisons, at least 170 police officers working to enforce curfews and border closures, and more than 50 medical personnel, according to official figures.

Brazil on Tuesday recorded its highest daily jump in new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with nearly 35,000 registered in 24 hours, the health ministry said.

The country, which has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, after the US reported 34,918 new cases and 1,282 new deaths in the past 24 hours.

That brought Brazil's total caseload to more than 923,000, and its death toll to 45,241.

Experts say under-testing in the country of 212 million people probably means the real figures are much higher.

The grim new record came as the World Health Organisation's top official for the Americas again voiced concern over the situation in Brazil.

"Brazil has 23 per cent of all cases and 21 per cent of all deaths in our region. And we are not seeing transmission slowing down," Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, told a news conference.

Brazil has struggled to set a strategy for dealing with the virus. — AFP

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