Panic grips northeastern Chinese city hit by new coronavirus outbreak
07/24/2020 // Franz Walker // Views

The announcement of a new Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian has prompted panic from the local populace who fear a new total lockdown of the city.

Dalian authorities announced the new outbreak on July 23, stating that they found three patients who had been diagnosed with the deadly disease.

As a result of the announcement, the city soon isolated the patients’ close contacts at several hotels and arranged for nucleic acid tests on around 190,000 people. In addition, authorities have also locked down neighborhoods, metro stations and markets.

Three cases and 12 asymptomatic carriers

The outbreak in Dalian began when a 58-year-old man, a Mr. Shi, tested positive for the coronavirus July 22. Shi, a seafood processing worker at Kaiyang Seafood in Dalian Bay, developed fever and fatigue on July 16 before eventually testing positive for the disease this week. Before being tested, however, Shi had taken a metro to and from work and also played at a mahjong and poker center in his free time.

After he tested positive, contact tracing led to the discovery of 12 asymptomatic carriers among Shi’s coworkers.

The second case was a Ms. Leng, who reported having headache and fever on July 14 before visiting a hospital on July 21. Before testing positive, the 29-year-old Leng had continued to report to work at the Dalian Metal Products company. She had also continued to visit her parents and in-laws in nearby Zhuanghe city, traveling by bus.

A certain Ms. Wang was the third case reported in Dalian. The 50-year old tailor developed symptoms on July 16 and visited the hospital on July 22. Unlike the previous two, Wang worked from home, with only a worker from a local garment factory visiting her every two days to send hew raw materials and pick up finished products. Wang, however, did shop at local markets.


Lockdown measures trigger panic

Following the discovery of the cases, authorities in the city were quick to implement measures to attempt to control the virus’s spread. According to residents interviewed by the Epoch Times, a number of residential compounds were locked down after close contacts of the patients were traced to them.

Meanwhile, authorities also closed down the Dalian Bay metro station as well as two large markets – the Lijia and Liaoyu markets – in the Dalian Bay area.

The lockdowns, however, have triggered panic among Dalian residents. Fearing that the whole city would be locked down seen, many rushed to supermarkets and pharmacies to purchase food as well as protective equipment such as masks and disinfectant.

Seafood blamed once again

Dalian authorities have since designated the Kaiyang Seafood company in Dalian Bay as ground zero of the new outbreak. Multiple samples were taken from the company, including from its processing workshop, canteen, office building as well as the frozen food that it was processing, which tested positive for traces of the virus.

This incident isn’t the first time that contaminated seafood had been blamed for a coronavirus outbreak. Last month, Beijing authorities had initially blamed the capital city’s outbreak on a shipment of imported salmon from Norway. This was even though international experts have already stated that the risk of coronavirus transmission through food is low.

Beijing officials later retracted their claim; however, after new data showed that the virus had arrived in the city much earlier than the suspected shipment. (Related: After mis-blaming Norwegian salmon, China admits it doesn’t know where Beijing’s new coronavirus outbreak came from.)

For Dalian, on the other hand, the speculation is that the virus had come from a Russian ship that had delivered cod and mackerel to Kaiyang Seafood.

“We guessed that Shi contracted the virus from Russia-harvested seafood,” a relative of Shi said. “Kaiyang Seafood just received a batch of cod and mackerel from a Russian boat. All crew on the ship were infected.”

Prior to the outbreak, the Liaoning provincial health commission reported that the crew of a Russian boat that had docked in Dalian had all tested positive for the coronavirus in early July.

One of Shi’s coworkers, a Mr. Yang, disagreed with the hypothesis that Shi caught the virus from the Russian ship, stating that the crew had been isolated almost immediately.

Yang then surmised that Shi might have instead gotten the coronavirus from an asymptomatic carried in the city.

“There are numerous asymptomatic carriers in each Chinese city,” he said.

Whether this is the case is hard to determine, Chinese authorities do not count asymptomatic carriers as part of their caseload.

Follow for updates on how the coronavirus is spreading around the globe.

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