Spike in Covid-19 cases ahead of Beijing Winter Olympics

Beijing, December 26

China has reported 206 new Covid-19 cases, including 158 domestically transmitted ones, in a sudden spike ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which will be held in February next year, the country’s health commission said on Sunday.

Of the new local cases of coronavirus, 157 were reported in Shaanxi and one in Guangxi provinces, besides 48 imported cases, the National Health Commission (NHC) said.

The spike in cases ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics has sparked concerns as officials scampered to arrest the spread. Though China has controlled the contagion by drastically limiting international travel, sporadic clusters of cases continued to surface in different parts of the country, putting its “Zero case” policy under stress.

Chinese officials reported a case of Omicron on December 13 in Tianjin city, followed by a few more cases. However, there is not much information about its spread in the country.

The health officials also reported an outbreak of Delta strain sub-lineage AY.4 in Zhejiang province in the middle of the month, which was reportedly brought under control.

Facing dual Covid risks from a domestic flare-up and the raging Omicron variant overseas, Beijing on Friday tightened epidemic prevention and control measures, and vowed to strictly adhere to a dynamic zero policy as the Chinese New Year and the Beijing Winter Olympics approach.

Xu Hejian, a spokesperson for the Beijing government, said at Friday’s media briefing that Beijing had revised its prevention and control measures, calling on residents to spend the upcoming holidays — New Year’s Day and Spring Festival — at home.

The new measures apply to cases of locally transmitted infections in Beijing, and residents in the districts where cases were reported are not allowed to leave the capital, other than for essential reasons. The Beijing government is encouraging companies to adopt flexible work hours and help employees avoid leaving or entering Beijing during peak periods. The total number of cases on the Chinese mainland stood at 101,077 since the virus broke out in Wuhan in 2019 with the death toll unchanged at 4,636. — PTI

Australian lab sent false results

Sydney: Australia’s most populous state reported a record number of new Covid cases on Sunday and a sharp jump in hospitalisations while thousands of people were isolating at home. A major laboratory in Sydney, which is located in New South Wales, said that 400 people who had been informed a day earlier they had tested negative for Covid had in fact tested positive. New South Wales reported 6,394 new infections, up from 6,288 a day earlier. Victoria reported 1,608 new cases and two deaths on Sunday. AP

Over 1L new cases

Paris: France has recorded more than 100,000 virus infections in a single day for the first time in the pandemic and hospitalisations have doubled over the past month, even as the government works to stave off a new lockdown.

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