China orders more Covid tests on Tianjin’s 14 million people

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The city of Tianjin in northern China has ordered a second round of Covid-19 tests on the 14 million inhabitants following the discovery of 97 cases of the Omicron variant during the first tests which began on Sunday .

Residents should stay where they are until the results of all nucleic acid tests are received, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

Xinhua said authorities have carried out nearly 12 million tests so far, with 7.8 million samples returned. Infections were first reported on Saturday in the city which is only about an hour from Beijing, which is set to host the Winter Olympics from February 4.

The city’s Covid-19 prevention and control office said all those who tested positive in the first round of testing were found to have the Omicron variant, which China has so far reported. than a handful of cases.

Residents line up for coronavirus test in Tianjin, northern China (Chinatopix / AP)

The source of the outbreak is still unknown and many of those who spread the strain may unintentionally do so as they are not showing any symptoms.

Millions more are stranded in other Chinese cities under the strict “dynamic zero case policy” that has enabled China to largely contain major epidemics, albeit at considerable cost to China. local economy.

Hong Kong closed kindergartens and elementary schools after infections were found among students, banned flights from the United States and seven other countries, and detained 2,500 passengers on a cruise ship for coronavirus testing on Wednesday as the city tried to stem an emerging Omicron outbreak.

The semi-autonomous Chinese city has tightened restrictions related to the pandemic in recent days after discovering that the Omicron variant has spread beyond people arriving from overseas.

In total, China announced 166 new cases of Covid-19 in the 24 hours to Wednesday, including 33 in Tianjin and 118 in Henan province, but only eight in Xi’an city, home to the famous statues of terracotta warriors and major industries. , where containment was imposed on December 23.

Virus outbreak in China
A worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant as residents of Tianjin line up to be tested (Chinatopix Via AP)

Authorities also released news of an inspection in Henan last week by Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chunlan, which called for enhanced measures to prevent the spread of the Delta and Omicron variants.

Covid has spread to three cities in the province, including Yuzhou, Anyang and the provincial capital Zhengzhou, causing travel bans and varying levels of lockdowns.

Mr. Sun said, “It is necessary to do a good job to secure the basic needs of people in closed and controlled communities, to ensure the basic medical needs of the population during the epidemic period, and to ensure that demands for the population can be replied and resolved timely.

Some Xi’an residents have complained about their inability to secure food and other daily necessities.

China has fired or punished a number of officials for failing to meet their pandemic response duties, including failing to prevent new infections.

On Wednesday, Anyang authorities cited 61 government departments and 11 officials in breach. The penalties ranged from verbal warnings to dismissal, according to a municipal government notice.

Virus outbreak in China
A medical worker wearing a protective suit stamps residents of Huaxian County, central China’s Henan Province (Chinatopix / AP)

Ensuring that the Olympics are free from any epidemic is a major concern for the ruling Communist Party.

Athletes, officials and journalists operate in a closed bubble to prevent them from coming into contact with the general public from their arrival in Beijing until their departure. If they are fully vaccinated, they will not have to undergo the standard 21-day quarantine.

In addition, the International Olympic Committee issued a guidance document advising participants to avoid crowded places such as bars and restaurants and to avoid physical contact with others five days before departure.

Participants are required to provide two negative PCR tests before traveling and will be tested twice a day while in China.

Participants should “absolutely not let their guard down” even after testing negative, the IOC said.

China has banned fans from outside the country from attending and it appears Beijing is planning to hand out only a small number of tickets to carefully selected spectators.

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