Science

China: daily cases at their highest point in two years three weeks before the Olympics – Sciences et Avenir

On Monday, 223 new cases were reported in China, including 80 only in the port city of Tianjin (north), affected for more than a week by an epidemic focus. The province of Guangdong (south), which has Guangzhou as its capital, has registered nine local cases of Covid-19, some of which are of the Omicron variant. The city of Zhuhai, on the border with Macau, asked its inhabitants to avoid traveling to other locations and began testing the entire population on Monday. Schools have been closed. Another 68 covid cases were also reported in central Henan province, where partial containment and mass screening measures were implemented for several million residents.

With less than three weeks to go before the Beijing Winter Olympics (February 4-20), authorities are on alert. Especially since the Chinese capital reported a first case of the Omicron variant this weekend. A Beijing health official, Pang Xinghuo, told reporters on Monday that the virus was found in a letter received from Canada by the infected person. According to authorities, dozens of letters from the same batch were analyzed. Five showed positive traces for the coronavirus, including samples from inside unopened letters.

Contaminated letters?

The strain was different from the Omicron cases in China and similar to strains identified in North America last month, Pang said. “The possibility of infection through incoming objects cannot be ruled out,” the official said.

Anti-Covid fumigation in Xi’an, north China, January 11, 2022 (AFP – STR, STR)

Since the discovery in 2020 of traces of the virus on a cutting board of imported salmon in a Beijing market, China has been particularly picky about products from abroad. However, the WHO has discredited the hypothesis of frozen food at the origin of the Covid-19 epidemic in China. As a preventive measure, more than 13,000 people have been tested in Beijing, while some tourist sites have been closed.

“closed loop”

The city now requires a negative test before travel and a follow-up test after arrival. Residents are also asked not to leave the capital during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays (February 1). With the arrival of the first athletes, the Chinese capital launched its “closed circuit” concept last week. This health bubble must prevent any direct contact between its future inhabitants (athletes, officials, volunteers, drivers, cooks) and the Chinese population.

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