1. WHO IS PATIENT ZERO?
The patient is a 52-year-old man surnamed Tang in Beijing’s Xicheng district, who had visited the Xinfadi wholesale market.
He went to a local hospital on June 10 because of a recurring fever and said he had not travelled outside of Beijing in the past two weeks.
Mr Tang started having symptoms on June 6, said chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
2. IS SALMON THE VIRUS CARRIER?
The Chinese and Norwegian authorities have concluded that Norwegian salmon was likely not the source of the coronavirus found on cutting boards in the Xinfadi market.
Following a meeting between both sides on Tuesday, they concluded that the source of the outbreak did not originate with fish from Norway, fisheries and seafood minister Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen said yesterday.
“We can clear away uncertainty and the halt in salmon export to China,” he said, referring to a move by many Chinese restaurants and retailers to stop selling imports of the fish.
3. WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SOURCES OF THE VIRUS?
Dr Wu told state broadcaster CCTV on Monday that the pathogen “resembles the virus strains in Europe the most, which, however, doesn’t mean that it came from Europe”.
He said some of the products in the market may have been contaminated by workers during processing and transportation.
“Our seafood products are typically stored and transported in cold containers. Thus it is possible for the virus to be preserved for a long time and this increases the likelihood of infection,” he said.
Another possible explanation is person-to-person transmission.
“The infected person who brought the virus into the market might be asymptomatic or might have very mild symptoms, and the hustle and bustle of the market led to the cluster of new infections,” Dr Wu said.
4. HOW BIG IS XINFADI MARKET?
Every day, about 10,000 people and 3,000 trucks arrive at the wholesale market.
Covering a total area of 112 hectares, the market provides 80 per cent of Beijing’s vegetables and fruits.
In 2019, its trade volume reached 131.9 billion yuan (S$26 billion), and 17.49 million tons of produce were traded there.
Among more than 4,600 wholesale markets of farm produce across China, Xinfadi has been the biggest for 17 years.
Many experts believe the outbreak in Beijing will provide an opportunity to find the intermediate host of the virus.
Professor Wang Liming of the College of Life Sciences in Zhejiang University said few samples were collected from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Centre in Wuhan city, where the virus first emerged in China, before it was closed and disinfected, but Xinfadi provided the opportunity.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK