China Reports Nation’s First Community Spread Of Omicron

Story Highlights
  • China saw its first omicron cases in the community igniting a mass testing blitz in Tianjin.
  • The two cases in the port city were confirmed as being omicron by the Chinese Center.
  • Country’s commitment to its Covid Zero policy has seen it restrict movements.

China: China on Sunday scampered to test 14 million residents of Tianjin as the port city near the capital has set off alarm bells ahead of the next month’s Beijing Winter Olympics by reporting a cluster of Covid-19 cases, including 2 with the dreaded Omicron variant. Thousands of people commute between Tianjin and Beijing as it takes hardly 30 minutes by the high-speed train. Officials said that Tianjin, a municipality that neighbours Beijing, has decided to start a citywide nucleic acid testing after 20 people tested positive for Covid-19.

The infections were reported on Friday and Saturday in Jinnan district and the gene sequencing found the first 2 locally transmitted confirmed cases were infected with the Omicron variant, the municipal headquarters for Covid-19 prevention and control said on Sunday. Tianjin was the first Chinese city to report a few cases of Omicron in mid-December but not much was heard of its spread since then while a major spike in cases was reported from the tourist city of Xian and a few other cities, prompting officials to resort to mass testing. Besides the two Omicron cases, 18 other infections in Tianjin are mainly students and their family members related to a day-care centre and a primary school where the first two cases were reported.

This prompted the local officials to resort to mass testing of all the 14 million people before its spread to Beijing as the capital city is set to host the much-advertised Winter Olympics from February 4. The coronavirus has spread for at least 3 generations in the latest resurgence, and more cases may emerge, said Zhang Ying, deputy director of Tianjin city’s centre for disease control and prevention. The citywide nucleic acid testing is expected to be completed in 24 hours in four districts on Sunday and in 12 other districts on Monday, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The residents will not be given a green health code until receiving a negative test result, the headquarters said.

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