Europe reopens, Beijing outbreak revives need for vigilance

Europe reopens, Beijing outbreak revives need for vigilance

Europe reopens, Beijing outbreak revives need for vigilance

BERLIN — European countries reopened their borders Monday after a three-month coronavirus shutdown, although international visitors are still being kept away and there was uncertainty over whether many Europeans will quickly embrace travel outside their home countries.

The virus is still far from being wiped out, and the need for constant vigilance came into sharp focus again as China, where COVID-19 first emerged last year, rushed to contain an outbreak in the capital of Beijing.

Germany and France dropped border checks nearly two weeks after Italy opened its frontiers. Greece welcomed visitors Monday with passengers on flights from other European countries not having to undergo compulsory coronavirus tests.

The European Union’s 27 nations and a number of other European states aren’t expected to start reopening to visitors from outside the continent until at least the beginning of July and possibly later.

Spain put its tourism industry to the test on Monday by allowing thousands of Germans to fly to its Balearic Islands without a 14-day quarantine. Officials said the pilot program will help authorities gauge what’s needed to guard against possible virus flare-ups.

Martin Hofman was delighted to board a flight from Dusseldorf to the island of Mallorca because he said his vacation couldn’t be postponed.

“To stay in Germany was not an option for us,” Hofman said. “We are totally happy that we can get out.”

In Beijing, where an outbreak was traced to a wholesale market that supplies much of the city’s meat and vegetables, people lined up at hospitals and other facilities as authorities rushed to administer thousands of tests. Authorities confirmed 79 cases over four days in what looks to be the largest outbreak since China largely stopped its spread at home more than two months ago.

Tests were being administered to workers at the Xinfadi market, anyone who had visited it in the past two weeks, or anyone who had come in contact with either group. The market is Beijing’s largest wholesale food market, prompting inspections of fresh meat and seafood in the city and elsewhere in China.

Authorities also locked down the neighbourhood around a second market, where three cases have been confirmed. In all, 90,000 people are affected in the two neighbourhoods in the city of 20 million.

China, where the pandemic began in December, had relaxed most of its anti-virus controls after the ruling Communist Party declared victory over the disease in March. The development refocused attention on the need to deal with fresh outbreaks that could appear anytime in unexpected places.

“We must continue to take decisive measures to defend against outside cases and internal resurgences, and mobilize all units to take responsibility,” said Xu Hejian, the director of the Beijing government information office.

Beijing suspended Monday’s planned restart of some primary schools and reversed the relaxation of some social isolation measures.

Inspectors found 40 samples of the virus in the closed market, including on a chopping board for imported salmon. That prompted some supermarket chains to take salmon off their shelves over the weekend, and inspect markets, stores and restaurants.

Beijing health officials said gene sequencing showed the virus strain causing the new outbreak was related to that in Europe, although it wasn’t clear if it was being spread by the movement of people or transportation of food.

Experts were doubtful the virus was being spread through salmon or other food products.

Ian MacKay, who studies viruses at the University of Queensland in Australia, said there was no evidence to suggest a link between outbreaks and food.

“For my money, it is more likely to be a person who came into the area with lots of people and the virus has spread, as the virus does,” he said.

Japanese health ministry officials said they were closely watching the Chinese investigation, as budget sushi restaurants in Japan rely heavily on imported seafood, especially from China. They added, though, that they have not seen scientific evidence suggesting the virus could be transmitted through food.

South Korea is also among those countries seeking to prevent a resurgence of the outbreak, reporting 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Authorities said 25 of the cases came from the Seoul area, where health authorities are scrambling to trace infections linked to entertainment and leisure activities, church gatherings, warehouse workers and door-to-door salespeople.

Other countries are still battling major outbreaks.

Even as Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country was emerging from the health crisis, authorities there reported the number of cases has increased by 8,246 in the last 24 hours to total 537,210. Russia, which has recorded over 7,000 deaths from the virus, is behind only the United States and Brazil in the number of infections.

In Turkey, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca warned that the country is “moving away from the target” after as the daily number of new infections rose above 1,500 within a 24-hour span following the relaxation of restrictions.

India’s home minister offered 500 train carriages Monday for use as makeshift hospital wards as New Delhi struggles to contain a spike in cases. The Health Ministry reported a jump of more than 11,000 new infections nationwide for a third straight day.

In the United States, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo decried “rampant” violations of virus restrictions and threatened to reinstate business closings in areas where local governments failed to enforce the rules. He singled out Manhattan and Long Island’s tony Hamptons as problem areas.

“We are not kidding around with this,” Cuomo said Sunday. “You’re talking about jeopardizing people’s lives.”

___

Associated Press journalists around the world contributed.

___

Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Ken Moritsugu, Geir Moulson And Menelaos Hadjicostis, The Associated Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Europe reopens, Beijing outbreak revives need for vigilance

Europe reopens, Beijing outbreak revives need for vigilance

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Alberta government photo)
Innisfail-Sylvan Lake to receive $5,000,000 in Municipal Operating Support Transfer funding

MLA Devin Dreeshen breaks down the funding communities will receive from MOST

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New record: Red Deer at 236 active COVID cases

One more death in central zone reported

(Photo Courtesy of Fortis Alberta)
New FortisAlberta instillation in Sylvan means more reliability and shorter power interruption times

FortisAlberta recently installed a Distribution Automation system in Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake RCMP Detachment. Photo Courtesy of Google Maps
Sylvan Lake RCMP address three key areas of resident concern

RCMP were notified of these main areas of concern through an online Town Hall

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraiser at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal highlight. (Independent file photo)
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

(Black Press File Photo)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Executive Director and Co-Founder of Rock Soup Craig Haavalsen is sleeping in a tent outside Rock Soup’s location until the Go Fund Me for Rock Soup raises $10,000. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Putting normalcy into asking for help: New non-profit sets up in Wetaskiwin

Rock Soup non-profit is a new secular Food Bank putting down roots in Wetaskiwin.

Most Read