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Omicron reaches Beijing, three weeks earlier than the Olympics start.

Officers in Beijing have reported the town’s first case of the Omicron variant, prompting authorities to order a right away 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 evening, an official from the high-tech Haidian District in western Beijing mentioned that the authorities had briefly cordoned off the contaminated particular person’s residential compound and office. Well being officers collected 2,430 samples for testing from folks 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 series 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 middle and residential to the nation’s high leaders. It is usually now gearing up for the arrival of 1000’s of Olympic athletes, officers and journalists who will keep in a tightly-restricted bubble within the metropolis with out having to do the obligatory quarantine that’s required of most inbound vacationers to China. The Olympics are set to begin on Feb. 4.

“Beijing has entered the Winter Olympics second, and it faces the twin strain of defending towards imported instances 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 this time 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 12 months.

Nonetheless, experiences 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 own Omicron outbreak, and there have been indicators that the variant was circulating within the metropolis for nearly two weeks before it was detected.

Native transmission of Omicron has now been reported in at the least 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 instances.

The Beijing authorities’ heightened vigilance was on show on Saturday evening 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 line with authorities, the contaminated particular person 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 particular person used the toilet.

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