Officers in Beijing have reported the primary case of the Omicron variant within the metropolis, prompting authorities to order an instantaneous lockdown and mass testing in a neighborhood simply three weeks earlier than the capital’s Winter Olympics open.
At a information convention Saturday evening, an official in west Beijing’s high-tech district of Haidian mentioned authorities had briefly cordoned off the contaminated particular person’s residential compound and office. Well being officers collected 2,430 samples for testing from individuals related to the 2 websites.
The detection of the extremely transmissible Omicron variant coronavirus in Beijing comes as China has been making an attempt to stamp out a sequence of simultaneous outbreaks throughout the nation as a part of broader efforts to adjust to the federal government’s “zero tolerance” coverage for the coronavirus.
The authorities in Beijing particularly are on elevated alert. Town is China’s political heart and the seat of the nation’s prime politicians. Additionally it is now getting ready for the arrival of 1000’s of Olympic athletes, officers and journalists, who will stay within the metropolis in a tightly contained bubble with out having to undergo the obligatory quarantine required of most arrivals to China. The Olympic Video games are scheduled to start out on February 4th.
“Beijing has entered the second of the Winter Olympics and faces twin pressures to defend in opposition to imported circumstances and forestall the outbreak from backlashing,” Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing municipal authorities, mentioned on the briefing. “As we speak’s newly reported regionally transmitted case has created a brand new alarm for pandemic prevention and management efforts.”
Even earlier than the Omicron case was confirmed on Saturday, Beijing had taken excessive precautions to arm the town in opposition to the virus. Journey to the capital from virus-hit areas throughout the nation has been severely restricted. Dozens of worldwide and home flights to the town have been suspended. And Beijing residents have been urged to remain put even for the upcoming Lunar New Yr vacation, which is often the busiest journey week of the 12 months.
Nonetheless, stories that Omicron had breached these formidable defenses weren’t totally stunning. Tianjin, a close-by port metropolis related to Beijing by a 30-minute high-speed rail hyperlink, has not too long ago been battling its personal omicron outbreak, and there are indications the variant circulated across the metropolis for practically two weeks earlier than being noticed would .
Native transmission of omicron has now been reported in no less than 5 provinces and municipalities throughout the nation, together with Guangdong province and the town of Shanghai. On Saturday, China’s Nationwide Well being Fee reported 104 regionally transmitted coronavirus circumstances.
The heightened vigilance of Beijing authorities was evident at Saturday evening’s press convention, when two officers independently meticulously detailed the current journey historical past of the confirmed Omicron case. In accordance with authorities, in two weeks the contaminated particular person visited many locations within the metropolis, together with a McDonald’s, a beef noodle store and a Peking duck restaurant, the place the particular person used the lavatory.