(BEIJING, China) — A cluster of COVID-19 circumstances in Beijing has prompted authorities to check thousands and thousands and impose new measures two weeks forward of the opening of the Winter Olympics, at the same time as the town of Xi’an in north-central China lifted on Monday a monthlong lockdown that had remoted its 13 million residents.
Officers in Beijing mentioned they’d conduct a second spherical of mass testing of the Fengtai district’s 2 million residents, the place nearly all of the capital’s 40 coronavirus circumstances since Jan. 15 have been discovered. That got here a day after authorities introduced that anybody who buys or who has purchased fever, cough or sure different medicines previously two weeks could be required to take a COVID-19 take a look at inside 72 hours.
The extreme measures, regardless of a comparatively low variety of circumstances, illustrate the acute concern of presidency officers within the run-up to the Olympics, which open in Beijing on Feb. 4.
“The present epidemic prevention scenario continues to be grim and complex and all departments throughout the town should act proactively and swiftly,” Beijing metropolis spokesperson Xu Hejian mentioned.
“The general scenario is controllable,” he added.
The ruling Communist Occasion’s “zero tolerance” COVID-19 coverage has introduced with it drastic efforts to stamp out any indicators of latest outbreaks — together with final month’s lockdowns of Xi’an and two different cities, and the partial suspension of prepare and aircraft routes to Beijing to isolate it from outbreak areas.
Total, the variety of reported new circumstances has been falling in China from greater than 100 a day on the peak of the Xi’an outbreak to 18 on Sunday, six of which have been in Beijing. Regardless of the drop, pandemic controls stay stepped-up forward of the Video games, the place all individuals shall be examined daily and be utterly remoted from most of the people.
Visiting Olympic athletes are required to be vaccinated or endure a quarantine after arriving in China.
Ben Cowling, a public well being professional at Hong Kong College, mentioned that COVID-19 infections nonetheless may leak out of the Olympic bubble.
“I might estimate there’s a good likelihood of a minimum of one lockdown being carried out in Beijing within the coming month,” he mentioned.
On prime of the primary spherical of mass testing within the capital’s Fengtai space, focused testing was carried out Sunday at residential communities in six different districts, the Beijing Day by day reported. It wasn’t totally clear who was being examined. The newspaper mentioned that in a single group, an official mentioned that if a resident had been to a high-risk space in Fengtai or Fangshan, one other affected district, occupants of all the constructing must be examined twice.
The federal government instructed individuals in areas of Beijing deemed at excessive danger for an infection to not go away the town. A variety of close by provinces reported circumstances linked to the outbreaks within the capital, together with Shandong and Hebei provinces.
Beijing officers mentioned an Omicron cluster that contaminated six individuals had been introduced below management. The Fengtai outbreak is Delta-driven and Chinese language well being officers have alleged it’s linked to imported frozen meals.
Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Heart for Illness Management, mentioned that gene sequencing of virus samples from the frozen meals was per that in 28 contaminated individuals. Overseas specialists are skeptical that COVID-19 can unfold simply from packaging.
The announcement of the top of the lockdown in Xi’an adopted the restart of economic flights from the town over the weekend. The main tourism middle and former imperial capital, famed as the house of the Terracotta Warrior statue military, struggled to get meals to some residents within the early days of the lockdown, after individuals have been confined to their houses.
Entry to Xi’an was suspended Dec. 22 following a Delta outbreak. Greater than 2,000 individuals have been contaminated within the metropolis, which is about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southwest of Beijing.
Different outbreaks prompted the federal government to impose journey bans on a variety of cities, together with the port of Tianjin, about an hour from Beijing. The stiff rules are credited with stopping main nationwide outbreaks and China has reported comparatively few circumstances of the extremely infectious Omicron variant.
Greater than 3,000 individuals have arrived for the Video games from Jan. 4 by means of Sunday, together with greater than 300 athletes and workforce officers, organizers mentioned Monday. The remaining are media and different individuals. Up to now, 78 individuals have examined constructive, together with one who was an athlete or workforce official. China has waived the standard 21 days of resort quarantine for these coming for the Olympics.
The IOC introduced Monday some modifications within the COVID-19 coverage for the Video games, together with a discount within the interval an contaminated individual is taken into account a detailed contact from 14 to 7 days.
Related Press author Huizhong Wu in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed.