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China: as the Olympics approach, daily cases at their highest for two years

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No less than 223 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in China on Monday, the highest level of contamination in the country since March 2020. Less than three weeks before the Beijing Olympics, several Chinese cities are affected by epidemic foci . On a limited scale, however, they put a strain on China’s “zero Covid” strategy.

The number of Covid-19 cases in China reached its highest level since March 2020 on Monday, January 17, as Beijing scrambles to eradicate the highly contagious Omicron variant three weeks before the Winter Olympics.

On Monday, 223 new cases were reported in China, including 80 in the virus-hit port city of Tianjin, 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.

>> To see: Mass screening, robbed markets: in Tianjin, the inhabitants face the arrival of the Omicron variant

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.

Meanwhile, in the historic city of Xi’an, in the north of the country, new infections have slowed sharply after almost a month of confinement.

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.

Some tourist sites closed

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.

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.

>> To see: China: two years after the first death, assessment of the zero Covid strategy

The infected woman did not leave Beijing and had no contact with other infected people, said health authorities, who tested some 13,000 people living or working in the same area.

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.

With AFP

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