With only three weeks until the Winter Olympic Games, COVID variants are showing signs of spreading, with new cases of both omicron and delta strains, despite rigorous efforts to avoid entrance into Beijing and vows from Chinese officials to “operate under the state of emergency.”
Beijing’s first omicron sufferer, according to the health authority, infected at least two close contacts with the virus. A person in another section of the capital has tested preliminarily positive for delta, said city spokeswoman Xu Hejian during a press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Xu stated at the briefing that Beijing is under “dual pressure” from imported illnesses and a local outbreak, “The new cases are once again reminding us of the complexity, arduousness, and challenges of epidemic prevention and control. All departments must be prepared for emergency response and strict guard against the virus by all means.”
After the first instance of omicron infection was recorded on Saturday, January 22, authorities asked all travelers arriving in Beijing to take an extra Covid-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival.
Following these three incidents, certain Chinese schools in Beijing, which has a population of over 22 million people, have been instructed to close before the Lunar New Year break, while most international schools will begin operating online on Wednesday.
After the first occurrence of Omicron strain in Beijing, which was in an overseas shipment from Canada, health officials recommended individuals not to order from abroad.
The boom has also lowered expectations for the Olympics, which begins on February 4 and are viewed as a showcase for China’s economy and administration. Organizers have halted public ticket sales in favor of inviting specific groups of spectators, as long as they follow strict virus safeguards.