Beijing authorities conduct mass Covid testing as cases rise before Olympics

Beijing’s local government has ordered more Covid-19 tests on Sunday as China’s capital continued to report new cases, less than two weeks before the start of the Winter Olympic Games.

Nine locally transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms were found in Beijing on 22 January, down from 10 a day earlier, the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Sunday, adding that six out of the nine were in the city’s Fengtai district.

Fengtai would organise nucleic acid tests for all of its residents on Sunday, district health authorities said.

City authorities also asked residents to proactively conduct nucleic acid tests if they find themselves with Covid-related symptoms within 14 days after receiving overseas deliveries.

China had urged people to wear masks and gloves when opening mail, especially from abroad, after authorities suggested the first case of the Omicron variant found in Beijing could have arrived via a package from Canada.

Cities across China have in recent weeks imposed tougher measures to control new Covid outbreaks, a task that has taken on extra urgency as Beijing prepares to host the Winter Olympics at the start of next month.

Many cities have advised residents to stay put or required travellers to report their trips days before their arrival.

Mainland China reported 56 new Covid cases on 22 January, down from 63 cases a day earlier, according to the country’s national health authority.

The NHC said 19 of the new cases were locally transmitted, down from 23 a day earlier, and the rest imported.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 34 from 43 a day earlier. There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll at 4,636. As of 22 January, mainland China had confirmed 105,603 cases.

South Korea, meanwhile, posted its second-highest daily number of coronavirus cases on Sunday, despite extended Covid curbs and a high vaccination rate, raising concerns of further spread during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.

The country recorded 7,630 new cases on Saturday, above the 7,009 cases reported a day earlier and near the mid-December record of 7,848.

India reported over 300,000 new Covid cases for the fourth straight day even though the caseload over the last 24 hours was slightly lower than a day before. There were 333,533 new infections and 525 deaths reported on Sunday.

On Saturday, India had reported 337,704 new cases and 488 deaths.


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