The Omicron case was discovered in Beijing, Chinese capital officials announced on Saturday, where the Winter Olympics begin on February 4, as the country battles several epidemics of the highly contagious coronavirus.
Also read: Beijing 2022: Julian Head Coach, Don GM
The announcement comes after travel restrictions were imposed following the discovery of seven pollution cases by the Omicran variant, near Macau, a coastal city of 2.4 million inhabitants in the southeastern part of the country.
In recent weeks millions of Chinese have been ordered to stay at home, dozens of domestic flights have been canceled and entire factories have been shut down as authorities try to prevent pre-Olympics outbreaks.
Omikran’s local broadcast case was found in the Haidian district of the Chinese capital, where several tech companies are headquartered, city official Pang Jinghuo told a news conference, a rare breach of Beijing’s very strict defense against COVID-19.
Authorities are examining other residents of the residential complex and office building and have restricted access to 17 locations linked to the infected person, Pang said.
Beijing has long been closed to the public in some parts of the country where cases have been reported and is asking all those who have come to provide recent COVID-19 tests.
In recent weeks, its residents have also been told not to leave the city for the upcoming Spring Festival holidays.
In Zhuhai, when seven cases of omicran were found, authorities urged residents not to leave the city “unless necessary”, with those affected having to submit a negative test within 24 hours.
Hair salons, game rooms, gyms and other movie halls were forced to close Thursday, and bus lines were closed in some parts of the city.
China has so far been able to keep the rate of infections very low with a zero-tolerance policy that locks down neighborhoods or entire cities as soon as certain cases appear.
Tough lockdowns have been imposed in smaller cities, where millions are said to be testing at home, while financial centers such as Shanghai and Beijing are testing specific neighborhoods as part of a more targeted effort.
But the appearance of the highly adhesive Omicron weakens this process. It was first found in the port of Tianjin, close to Beijing, before touching Anyang in the center of the country.
Authorities have called on areas not yet affected to “relax” their vigilance and “strengthen controls”.
According to official figures, 104 new Kovid cases were reported in the country on Saturday.