Beijing reports first local Omicron case ahead of Winter Olympics

Beijing reports first local Omicron case ahead of Winter Olympics
A woman wearing a face mask to protect against Covid-19 sits near landscaping decorated with the logos for the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics on a pedestrian shopping street in Beijing (Mark Schiefelbein/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 north-western 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 at a news conference during which they confirmed the infection.

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.

Medical workers wearing protective suits swab a woman and a child for a coronavirus test in Huaxian County in central China’s Henan Province (Chinatopix via AP)

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.

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

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 coronavirus.

The Olympic rings near a ski resort on the outskirts of Beijing, China (Ng Han Guan/AP)

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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