(June 18): A coronavirus outbreak continued to spread in Beijing, with 21 new cases announced Thursday, presenting the biggest challenge yet in China’s efforts to prevent a second wave of infections.

The total number of infections in China’s capital is now more than 150. While the daily count of new infections is slowing from previous days, health officials have warned that the outbreak stemming from the city’s largest wholesale fruit and vegetable market is expected to continue growing.

Beijing has vowed to make every effort to contain the epidemic, which has already spread to at least four other provinces. The city has ramped up containment measure -- cancelling flights, closing schools and restricting residential compounds -- though the actions so far aren’t as harsh as those taken recently to control smaller flareups in other parts of the country.

beijing covid

Activity in the city has slowed considerably as residents fear the spread of infection. According to data published by social network Weibo, daily passenger counts fell sharply this week after increasing steadily since volumes went to zero during the initial outbreak. That’s a reminder that the nation’s economic recovery remains vulnerable to setbacks until the virus is eradicated.

The resurgence is shaping up to be a sobering warning to other nations about the difficulty of eradicating the pathogen that has infected more than 8.3 million people worldwide. Japan has also seen a flare-up of new cases in its capital of Tokyo, while New Zealand’s brief period of being virus-free was interrupted this week by travellers who were improperly quarantined. In the U.S., states like Texas and Arizona are reporting record-high new infections.