03:23 GMT24 September 2020
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    BEIJING (Sputnik) - An epidemiological investigation of a new COVID-19 cluster at the Xinfadi wholesale food centre in Beijing has provided new insights into the Wuhan outbreak, Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Thursday.

    "We have analysed the nature of infected persons' activities. We found that people who bought seafood contracted [coronavirus] more often than others," Wu said at a press conference.

    Epidemiologists have also found that the workers who have had contact with seafood products also had their symptoms develop earlier than other infected people.

    "We took a lot of samples from the market, from different surfaces, objects. After analysing the results, we found out that the most infected place was the hall with seafood products", the expert said, adding that there was meat too.

    The findings led epidemiologists to link the outbreak in Beijing's Xinfadi food centre to the outbreak in the seafood market in Wuhan late last year.

    "Back then we suspected that this [outbreak in the Wuhan seafood market] was animal-related. The results of our investigation in the Beijing market brought us back to Wuhan and gave us a new vector for solving the Wuhan outbreak riddle", Wu noted.

    According to the epidemiologist, the virus seems to survive at fairly low temperatures, which explains its presence in seafood markets.

    Beijing confirmed 21 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, detecting three asymptomatic carriers. All the cases are linked to Xinfadi. As many as 158 COVID-19 patients are now undergoing treatment in Beijing's hospitals, and 15 asymptomatic carriers are being monitored.

    The current coronavirus pandemic began in China in December. Initial reports indicated that the epicenter of the outbreak was linked to a market in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province.

    COVID-19, Wuhan, Beijing
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