On Monday, China reported the greatest number of Covid cases since March 2020. The fact that this is happening just three weeks before the Winter Olympics has added to the authorities’ concerns.
After a local case could have been infected by international post, a top health official warned residents of the capital to “avoid buying items from overseas,” citing mounting concerns about the highly-transmissible Omicron strain threatening China’s tight approach to virus control.
Coronavirus made its first appearance in China in 2019. Even as the rest of the globe has reopened, the country has maintained a rigorous policy of targeting zero Covid cases.
However, its strategy has come under fire in recent weeks, with many clusters forming in important cities just as the Beijing Olympics are set to begin.
On Monday, 223 new cases were announced, including 80 in the virus-affected port city of Tianjin and nine in Guangdong’s southern manufacturing heartland, including cases of the highly transmissible Omicron type.
Athletes and officials have begun to arrive in the capital ahead of the Games, entering a closely guarded bubble that separates them from the general public.
However, following the discovery of a local Omicron case in Beijing over the weekend, authorities strengthened procedures for arrivals from other parts of China.
Residents are being urged not to leave the capital for the forthcoming Lunar New Year vacation unless they have a negative test before travelling and a follow-up test after entering.
Some tourist attractions have also been shut down.