First omicron outbreak in China: more infections discovered

TIANJIN (dpa-AFX) – After the first local outbreak of the Omikron variant in China, further infections have been discovered. The number of cases in Beijing’s neighboring city of Tianjin rose from 20 to 40, while two infections were also discovered in central China, state media reported on Monday. Two Omicron infections in Anyang, Henan Province in central China, have been traced back to the Tianjin outbreak. Two infected students returned from the affected Jinnan District in Tianjin at the end of December.

The discovery of local Omicron infections almost four weeks before the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing and before the travel season for the Chinese New Year celebrations at the end of January alarmed the authorities. Health authorities expected further infections. The highly contagious variant is likely to put China’s strict zero-Covid strategy to the test with mass tests, curfews, quarantine and foreclosure. In the state media, epidemiologists speak of the “first real battle” against Omikron in China.

In Tianjin, all 15 million residents have been tested since Sunday. Residents were urged not to leave the city without good reason. They also have to prove a negative PCR test within 48 hours. The estimated 100,000 commuters who work in Beijing, 100 kilometers away, have been asked to work from home. The capital set up checkpoints to control access.

The omicron outbreak in Tianjin has been traced back to a childcare center and elementary school in Jinnan District. First two Omicron cases were discovered, then 18 other infections. As of Sunday evening, a total of 40 cases had been counted, as the “China Daily” reported. There was no explicit breakdown of how many of them were omicron infections. But at the beginning there was talk of a majority. Primary school and middle school students and family members are particularly affected. Around 75,000 people were then quarantined, as the “Global Times” reported.

After the first hamster purchases for fear of a large-scale lockdown, as for more than two weeks in the 13 million metropolis of Xi’an, which is afflicted by the Delta variant, the stocks of supermarkets in Tianjin were increased. Authorities assured troubled residents that enough food was available. Operations on two subway lines have been suspended in parts. Tianjin International Binhai Airport canceled 144 flights, the Global Times reported./lw/DP/eas

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