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Winter Olympics

Parts of Beijing curb movements to fight Covid-19 ahead of Olympics

epa09691076 Workers attach a banner on a fence, near the venues for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing, China, 17 January 2022. Weeks before the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the capital reported its first locally transmitted case of the Omicron variant of the Sars-Cov-2 virus on 15 January. China is battling the new wave of Covid-19, with millions across the country placed in lockdowns and harsh travel restrictions. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to start on 04 February. EPA-EFE/ROMAN PILIPEY
By Reuters
27 Jan 2022 0

BEIJING, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Beijing has limited the movement of people in more parts of the city, even as it reported fewer Covid-19 cases on Thursday, to lower virus risks just over a week before the Winter Olympic Games begin in the Chinese capital.

Beijing’s Fengtai district said late on Wednesday residents in more areas should not leave their residential compounds for unnecessary reasons and must have a daily Covid test.

The district, which has reported more local virus cases than others in the current outbreak in Beijing, had already locked down some compounds that house tens of thousands of people. Several other city districts have imposed mobility restrictions in certain areas.

Beijing reported five locally transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms for Wednesday, down from 14 a day earlier, the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Thursday.

Although case numbers are low compared to outbreaks globally, China’s practice is to immediately contain any outbreak. Containment of the coronavirus takes on added urgency as the Olympics approach and as hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel during the Lunar New Year season.

“I’m anxious everyday because the virus situation is still quite serious,” said a traveler surnamed Wang at Beijing Railway Station.

“I don’t want to bring trouble to my hometown. Now I’m tested negative, but what if it changes to positive?”

Travel in the first ten days of the holiday season across China increased 46% from the same period last year, but it is still below the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, a national transportation authority official said on Thursday.

Beijing Olympics organisers said 23 new cases of Covid-19 were detected among Games-related personnel on Jan. 26, including eight among those already in the closed-loop Olympics bubble and the rest on arrival at the airport.

In Shanghai, a locally transmitted case of the Omicron variant was detected on Monday, state television said on Thursday.

The capital has found a total of 60 local cases with symptoms since Jan. 15, NHC data shows. Beijing officials have said most cases are the Delta variant, with a handful being the highly transmissible Omicron.

At least eight provinces, regions and municipalities in China have found locally transmitted Omicron infections, but totals for cases of the variant are unclear.

Since the pandemic began, China has shut its borders to most international arrivals. Overseas arrivals typically must quarantine for at least two weeks when they enter China.

Immigration officials said on Thursday trips by foreigners in and out of China fell 65.9% in 2021 compared to the previous year. (Reporting by Roxanne Liu, Cong Sun and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Michael Perry and Tom Hogue)

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