Covid: Beijing reports local case of Omicron

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Authorities in China have confirmed a local case of the Omicron strain in Beijing, even as the country prepares for the Winter Olympics, due to start on February 4.

The patient has had no contact with any confirmed cases and has not left the city over the last 14 days, the Global Times reported on Saturday.

The patient, from the city’s Haidian district, reportedly began to experience the onset of symptoms on Thursday before submitting to a test on Friday.

Health officials have also recovered multiple environmental samples from the individual’s home, which also tested positive.

Two people living with the patient tested negative for the virus, while 15 identified close contacts have been put under quarantine, the report said.

The patient had visited several entertainment venues, including shops, cafes, and a talk show event, in movements tracked since December 31, according to an official statement.

Haidian district government has sealed off the individual’s residential community and place of work. Officials have also conducted nucleic acid tests for key people related to either location. As of 6 p.m. Saturday, a total of 2,430 people have been tested, with results currently pending, the report said.

According to Xu Hejian, a spokesperson for the Beijing municipal government, as Beijing is nearing the Winter Olympics, it is facing double pressure of domestic and imported cases.

Hejian said that Beijing will begin strictly screening people with risks arriving in the capital city, with no room for loopholes; while also requiring arrivals travelling from medium- and high-risk areas to undergo home quarantine and receive nucleic acid testing.

The official also urged commuters travelling between Beijing and other places to temporarily work from home, the report said.

China has kept Covid-19 cases relatively low throughout the pandemic with its zero-tolerance strategy of immediately ordering mass testing and strict lockdowns when infections are detected.

But the fast-spreading Omicron variant has been locally detected from 14 provincial areas in China including from the northern city of Tianjin, the central province of Henan, the southern province of Guangdong and the northeastern province of Liaoning, Daily Mail reported.

However, the total number of Omicron cases in the country remains unclear.

In a statement on Saturday, the National Health Commission (NHC), reported 165 new confirmed coronavirus cases for January 14, down from 201 a day earlier.

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