Chinese capital reports new coronavirus cases for second day

People are wearing face masks inside the Jingshen seafood market which has been closed for business after new coronavirus infections were detected, in Beijing

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s capital reported two new coronavirus infections on Friday, a day after it declared its first case in nearly two months, prompting officials to delay plans for some students to return school.

The new cases, from a different part of Beijing than Thursday’s infection, involved two men working at a meat research center, state media said.

It was not immediately clear how they were infected.

Both men, aged 25 and 37, had had no contact with people from Hubei province, where the coronavirus was first identified, or travelers from overseas in the last 14 days, state media said, though the younger man was briefly in Qingdao city in the eastern province of Shandong.

The Beijing city government said it had dropped plans to reopen school on Monday for students from the first to third grades because of the new cases.

It said restaurants would be inspected and checks made on seafood products and fresh and frozen meats.

The research facility, the China Meat Food Comprehensive Research Centre, in Fengtai district in the south of Beijing, remained open on Friday, according to the state-run Beijing Daily.

Reuters could not immediately reach the Beijing Academy of Food Sciences, which oversees the center, for comment.

Two food markets within a 7 km radius of the plant had mostly been closed.

State media Beijing News said city authorities had shut down beef and mutton trading at the Xinfadi wholesale market, where they carried out tests and disinfection after Thursday’s patient was found to have visited.

Beijing’s Jingshen seafood market had also closed, the Beijing News added, saying that although the market gave no reason for the closure, Friday’s patients had visited recently.

The men had been to Xinfadi, and recently also visited Dongsiqu agricultural wholesale market in Pinggu district, in the northeast of Beijing, state media reported, adding that the market would be closed from Saturday until further notice.

The coronavirus is believed by many to have emerged at a seafood market in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, in December.

(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-HEALTH-MAP/0100B59S39E/index.html in an external browser.)

(Reporting by Judy Hua, Lusha Zhang, Hallie Gu, Colin Qian and Dominique Patton; Writing by Se Young Lee and Ryan Woo; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Nick Macfie)