On Monday, the number of Covid-19 cases in China rose to its highest level since March 2020, as Beijing scrambles to eradicate the highly contagious Omicron variant three weeks from the Winter Olympics.

223 new cases have indeed been reported in the country, including 80 in the port city of Tianjin, affected by the virus, and nine others, including cases of Omicron, in Guangzhou, in the south of the country.

Another 68 cases have been reported in the central province of Henan, where partial containment measures and a massive testing campaign have been put in place for several million residents.

Zhuhai, on the border with Macau, asked residents to avoid leaving the city after detecting a handful of Omicron cases and began testing across the city from Monday.

Schools have been closed.

Athletes arrive in dribs and drabs

Sixty new imported cases were also recorded on Monday, as China maintains strict border entry controls, including reducing the number of flights and a "circuit breaker" policy under which routes are interrupted if the number of imported infections is too high.

Athletes and representatives have already started arriving in the capital ahead of the Games, immediately entering a tightly controlled bubble that separates them entirely from the rest of the population.

After a local case of Omicron was detected in Beijing over the weekend, authorities tightened regulations for people arriving in the capital from other parts of China.

The “zero Covid” policy is faltering

Beijing now requires a negative test before travel and a follow-up test after arrival, with residents urged not to leave the city during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.

Some tourist sites in the capital have also been closed.

China, where the virus first emerged in late 2019, clings to a draconian zero-tolerance policy on coronavirus as the rest of the world reopens its borders.

But this policy has been put to the test in recent weeks with multiple outbreaks of contamination across the country.


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  • Variant Omicron

  • Covid-19

  • Sport

  • China

  • beijing

  • Olympic Games

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