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Friday, March 31, 2023

China Locks Down Tianjin After Omicron Cases Found

The numbers are minor, but China’s key port city of Tianjin may be facing the country’s first local epidemic of any scale of omicron, less than a month before the Winter Olympics in Beijing begin.

The government has separated Tianjin and its 14 million citizens into three degrees of limitations, according to state broadcaster CCTV, starting with lockdown zones where individuals are not permitted to leave their homes at all. Every other day, one family member from each household is permitted to go to do grocery shopping in control zones, however in preventive areas, residents must stay in their respective communities.

Buses and trains between Tianjin and Beijing have been halted, and residents have been advised not to leave the city unless they have urgent business to attend to.

After a cluster of 20 children and adults tested positive for COVID-19, including at least two with the omicron form, the city initiated mass testing of all citizens on Sunday. On Sunday, 20 more persons tested positive, increasing the total to 40. Officials have stated that the virus has been spreading and that the number of cases may increase.

In the run-up to the Olympics, China has tightened its zero-tolerance policy. The games begin on February 4th. Many people often commute between Tianjin and Beijing, which is 115 kilometers (70 miles) northwest, by automobile or on a high-speed train link that takes less than an hour.

In Xi’an and Yuzhou, two cities further afield but with larger epidemics linked to the delta type, millions of people have been confined to their homes. Residents of Xi’an have been under house arrest for more than two weeks, but the number of new cases in the 13-million-strong metropolis plummeted to only 15 on Monday, indicating that the restrictions may be lifted shortly. Yuzhou is a city in Henan Province, China, with a population of around 1.1 million people.

Another 60 instances were recorded in Henan on Monday, including two of the omicron variety, which were discovered in the city of Anyang on Dec. 28 and probably carried from Tianjin by a college student, according to official media source The Paper. Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, has been conducting mass testing and closing schools. On Monday, another 24 instances were recorded in the city.

A 10-year-old kid and a 29-year-old woman working at an after-school program were the first two cases identified in Tianjin. The omicron variety infected both of them. As of Saturday night, 18 other close contacts had tested positive, while 767 had tested negative.

A total of 15 pupils aged 8 to 13 years old, as well as one after-school center employee and four parents, have been affected. The citywide testing will take two days to complete. To try to limit the spread of the virus, Tianjin has stopped several metro stations on two lines.

China has previously documented approximately a dozen omicron instances, the most of which were among persons who had recently come from outside and had been quarantined. The virus was not discovered until after the individual had completed two weeks of quarantine in one case in mid-December, and it spread to a few close contacts in the southern city of Guangzhou.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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