Officers in Beijing have reported the town’s first case of the Omicron variant, prompting authorities to order a direct lockdown and mass testing in a single neighborhood simply three weeks earlier than the opening of the Winter Olympics within the capital metropolis.
Talking at a information briefing on Saturday night time, an official from the high-tech Haidian District in western Beijing mentioned that the authorities had quickly cordoned off the contaminated individual’s residential compound and office. Well being officers collected 2,430 samples for testing from individuals linked to the 2 places.
The detection of the highly-transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant in Beijing comes as China has been racing to stamp out a collection of concurrent outbreaks across the nation as a part of a broader effort to stick to the federal government’s coverage of “zero tolerance” for the coronavirus.
Authorities in Beijing particularly have been on heightened alert. The town is China’s political heart and residential to the nation’s prime leaders. It’s also now gearing up for the arrival of hundreds of Olympic athletes, officers and journalists who will keep in a tightly-restricted bubble within the metropolis with out having to do the necessary quarantine that’s required of most inbound vacationers to China. The Olympics are set to start out on Feb. 4.
“Beijing has entered the Winter Olympics second, and it faces the twin stress of defending towards imported circumstances and stopping the rebound of the outbreak,” Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing municipal authorities, mentioned on the briefing. “The newly reported domestically transmitted case at present has set off a brand new alarm for the pandemic prevention and management effort.”
Even earlier than the Omicron case was confirmed on Saturday, Beijing had been taking excessive precautions to fortify the town towards the virus. Journey to the capital from virus-affected areas across the nation has been severely restricted. Dozens of worldwide and home flights into the town have been suspended. And Beijing residents have been urged to remain put, even for the upcoming Lunar New 12 months vacation, usually the busiest journey week of the yr.
Nonetheless, stories that Omicron had breached these formidable defenses weren’t solely stunning. Tianjin, a close-by port metropolis linked to Beijing by a 30-minute high-speed rail hyperlink, has just lately been battling its personal Omicron outbreak, and there have been indicators that the variant was circulating within the metropolis for almost two weeks earlier than it was detected.
Native transmission of Omicron has now been reported in not 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 domestically transmitted coronavirus circumstances.
The Beijing authorities’ heightened vigilance was on show on Saturday night time on the information convention as two officers individually went into meticulous element in regards to the current journey historical past of the confirmed Omicron case. In response to authorities, the contaminated individual visited many locations across the metropolis in two weeks, together with a McDonald’s, a beef noodle store and a Peking duck restaurant, the place the individual used the toilet.