Beijing Updates: Beijing city officials announced on Sunday that all two million people of a neighbourhood where a tiny cluster of Covid-19 infections was discovered will be examined, less than two weeks before the Winter Olympics begin. Authorities said mail could be the source of recent coronavirus infections, prompting China’s postal service to ask workers to sanitise overseas parcels. In Beijing, one of the world’s most populous cities, 30 infections have been detected in the last week. The World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control have both stated that the risk of infection from contaminated surfaces is negligible. The extremely contagious Omicron type is generating a new spike in infections in China, which represents a tiny fraction of the enormous jump in countries around the world. Nonetheless, a number of small outbreaks across China, including in Beijing, have put the country’s strict “zero Covid” policy to the test, which authorities have maintained even as the rest of the world gradually reopened. The Fengtai area in southern Beijing has been identified as the epicentre of a cluster of six additional confirmed infections, bringing the total number of cases in the capital to 34.
Beginning on Sunday, all two million residents in the area will be tested for Covid-19. International delegates, media staff, and some competitors have already begun arriving for the Beijing Games, which begin on February 4th. To combat the coronavirus, China is enclosing the Olympics in a tightly controlled bubble that will enclose thousands of people and span over 200 kilometres (120 miles). The new change makes it easier for participants to be virus-free when they arrive at the Games. Since the 4th of January, 106 of the more than 3,000 Olympic arrivals have tested positive for the virus. Locals in Beijing are experiencing stricter restrictions and increased lockdowns outside of the tournament’s closed-off grounds. Following the discovery of a handful of locally transmitted cases earlier this week, residents in Beijing’s Fengtai district have been advised to undergo testing. Locals who purchased over-the-counter fever or cough treatments were also advised to take a test within three days of purchase. As part of Beijing’s zero-Covid goal, officials hope to eradicate small outbreaks of the virus before the Games begin on February 4th.
ZERO SPREAD IS NOT THE SAME AS ZERO CASES: Beijing
However, officials say they expect more cases to surface, with Dr. Brian McCloskey, the chair of the Beijing 2022 Olympic medical expert team, saying at a press conference on Sunday that the goal was “zero spread” rather than “zero cases.” The difficulty, he explained, was for organisers to swiftly identify and isolate positive people. To qualify as a cyclist, participants must now achieve a cycle threshold (CT) of 35 instead of 40.