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Beijing reports first locally transmitted omicron case in lead-up to Olympics

The Hill logo The Hill 1/16/2022 Chloe Folmar
Beijing reports first locally transmitted omicron case in lead-up to Olympics © AP. Beijing reports first locally transmitted omicron case in lead-up to Olympics

Beijing has reported its first locally transmitted case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus Saturday, about three weeks before the Olympic Winter Games are set to begin in the city on Feb. 4, The Guardian reports.

Lab testing indicated that the strain of the virus the person was infected with had "mutations specific to the Omicron variant," an official from Beijing's disease control authority said in a press conference, according to The Guardian.

The authority has published detailed information on the whereabouts of the infected individual since Dec. 31, per the outlet. Officials for Beijing's Haidian District have also closed off the patient's residential area and workplace and taken more than 2,000 samples from people connected to both places to test for the virus.

"Now Beijing's epidemic prevention and control work faces the double risk of overseas and domestic cases," said Beijing Municipal Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Deputy Director Pang Xinghuo at the Saturday press conference, per The Guardian.

Video: China's Tianjin outbreak grows as Omicron spreads to Dalian (Reuters)

China may also be at risk of more widespread COVID-19 transmission as the lunar new year holiday approaches at the beginning of February, The Guardian noted.

The Chinese government has tightened COVID-19 restrictions as it prepares for the Olympics, barring airline passengers traveling to China through a third point from entering the country and saying that Chinese residents who travel abroad and visit an area that experiences an outbreak may not be allowed to reenter China.

Lockdowns or citywide testing have also been implemented in several Chinese cities, and a number of flights to China from the U.S., Canada and France have been cancelled.

These restrictions come as at least 14 provincial areas in China have now reported cases of coronavirus since early December, per The Guardian.

The first case of the omicron variant in China was detected in Tianjin on Dec. 9, according to the outlet. The patient had recently returned to China from an international trip and was asymptomatic.


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