onsdag 12. januar 2022

'Zero-Covid' China fights to contain Omicron as restrictions tighten in major city

China's northern port city of Tianjin and central province of Henan have further tightened Covid restrictions as the highly contagious Omicron variant continues to spread, posing the gravest challenge yet to the country's zero-Covid strategy. Tianjin, which detected China's first community spread of Omicron on Saturday, is rolling out a second round of mass testing on its 14 million residents on Wednesday. As of noon Tuesday, 97 people had tested positive.

The outbreak has already spread to Anyang, a city in Henan province some 300 miles (482 kilometers) away, prompting a full lockdown. On Wednesday, the city of Dalian in northeastern China said two recent returnees from Tianjin had tested positive -- raising fears that the new variant has spread to another city.

The Omicron outbreak is particularly worrying to officials in Beijing, which lies about 80 miles northwest of Tianjin -- and about 30 minutes away by high-speed rail. The Chinese capital is due to host the Winter Olympics on February 4. Tianjin officials said at a news conference Tuesday that all bus services to Beijing had been suspended. Train tickets from Tianjin to Beijing have been closed for purchase online since Sunday evening.