China has reported its highest daily surge of new coronavirus cases since April after a food market in Beijing was closed due to a rise in local infections.
The National Health Commission confirmed there were 57 new infections in the country on Saturday, including 36 in the capital.
The new cases have sparked concerns of a second wave of Covid-19, which has infected more than seven million people worldwide and killed 432,638.
China had relaxed most of its lockdown measures after the ruling Communist Party declared victory over the disease in March.
However, yesterday a Beijing district was put under lockdown after new infections were identified around a major wholesale food market.
Forty-five people out of 517 tested with throat swabs at the Xinfadi market in the city’s southwestern Fengtai district had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Chu Junwei, a district official, said none of the people who tested positive for the virus were showing symptoms of Covid-19.
The official added that 11 neighbourhoods near the market were locked down with 24-hour guards put in place.
Chu said: “In accordance with the principle of putting the safety of the masses and health first, we have adopted lockdown measures for the Xinfadi market and surrounding neighbourhoods.”
He added the district is in a “wartime emergency mode” and tourism has been banned in the Chinese capital.
The entire Xinfadi market was shut down at 3am on Saturday after two men working at a meat research centre who had recently visited the market were reported to have the virus.
The city government also said it had dropped plans to reopen schools on Monday to young pupils because of the new cases.
The market has 4,000 tenants and will be disinfected, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Beijing authorities had earlier halted beef and mutton trading at the market and had closed other wholesale markets around the city.
The chairman of the wholesale market told Beijing News that the virus had also been detected on chopping boards used to handle imported salmon.
This led to a halt in sales of salmon also at supermarkets throughout the city.
According to the Xinfadi website, more than 1,500 tonnes of seafood, 18,000 tonnes of vegetables and 20,000 tonnes of fruit are traded at the market daily.
That concern also spread to other cities, with a major agricultural wholesale market in Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, saying it would remove salmon products from its shelves from Saturday.
In Nanjing, capital of the eastern province of Jiangsu, a local association of restaurants said it would halt the serving of foods containing raw seafood or animal products.