Beijing reports first local omicron case ahead of Olympics

Beijing has reported its first local omicron infection, according to state media, weeks before the Winter Olympic Games are due to start.

People wearing face masks to protect against COVID-19 walk past a clock counting down the time until the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on Saturday. So far, multiple cities in China have reported omicron infections, including Zhuhai and Zhongshan in southern Guangdong province as well as the city of Tianjin, which is 30 minutes from Beijing by high-speed rail.   -  AP

Beijing has reported its first local omicron infection, according to state media, weeks before the Winter Olympic Games are due to start.

The infected person lives and works in the city’s northwestern district of Haidian and had no travel history outside of Beijing for the past two weeks. The individual experienced symptoms on Thursday and was tested on Friday for COVID-19, officials said in a news conference on Saturday.

The news of the infection comes less than three weeks before the Winter Olympic Games’ opening ceremony on February 4, and around two weeks before the start of Lunar New Year celebrations in China. So far, multiple cities in China have reported omicron infections, including Zhuhai and Zhongshan in southern Guangdong province as well as the city of Tianjin, which is 30 minutes from Beijing by high-speed rail.

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Officials across the country have urged residents to stay in their cities for the new year, instead of travelling back to their hometowns.

China has adopted a strict “zero-Covid” policy, with authorities locking down residential compounds and even entire cities such as Xi’an when a local outbreak has been discovered in an effort to stamp out community transmission.

The Beijing patient’s residential compound and workplace have been sealed off and authorities are mass-testing people linked to either location for the coronavirus. Some 2,430 people had been tested as of Saturday night, according to The Global Times, a state-owned newspaper.

China reported 119 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, of which 65 were domestic cases. The country has reported 104,864 infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

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