China’s Beijing orders more COVID tests as cases mount before Olympics

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BEIJING, Jan 23 (Reuters) – The local government in China’s capital ordered more COVID-19 tests on Sunday as the city continued to report new local cases, less than two weeks before the start of the Winter Olympic Games.

Nine locally transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms were found in Beijing on Jan. 22, down from 10 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said on Sunday, adding that six out of the nine were in the city’s Fengtai District.

Fengtai would organise nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 for all of its residents on Sunday, district health authorities said in a statement.

Beijing city also asked residents to proactively conduct nucleic acid tests if they find themselves with COVID-19 related symptoms within 14 days after receiving overseas deliveries, local authorities said in a statement dated Saturday.

China had urged people to wear masks and gloves when opening mail, especially from abroad, after authorities suggested the first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus found in Beijing could have arrived via a package from Canada.

Cities across China have in recent weeks imposed tougher measures to control new outbreaks of COVID-19, a task that has also taken on extra urgency as Beijing prepares to host the Winter Olympics at the start of next month.

Many cities have advised residents to stay put or requiring travellers to report their trips days before their arrival.

Mainland China reported 56 new COVID-19 cases on Jan. 22, down from 63 cases a day earlier, according to the country’s national health authority.

The National Health Commission said that 19 of the new cases were locally transmitted, down from 23 a day earlier, and the rest imported.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 34 from 43 a day earlier.

There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll at 4,636.

As of Jan. 22, mainland China had confirmed 105,603 cases.

(Reporting by Yingzhi Yang, Jing Xu and Ryan Woo in Beijing; Editing by William Mallard)

Photo – EPA-EFE/ALEX PLAVEVSKI

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