Three weeks before the Winter Olympics, Omicron at the gates of Beijing

China is in turn affected by the Omicron variant. It would have appeared in December 2021 in Tianjin, a city of fourteen million inhabitants located 130 kilometers east of Beijing. A first, asymptomatic case was detected on December 13 in a traveler who returned from Poland four days earlier and was in quarantine. More worrying, Sunday January 9, other cases, which do not seem related to this one, appeared there: a schoolgirl of ten years and an employee of the school support center of 29 years.

Meanwhile, at least two people with the variant, including a student, have traveled about 500 kilometers from Tianjin, to Anyang, a city of five million people in Henan. These are the first cases of local contamination by the Omicron variant.

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On Tuesday, the Chinese administration reported 10 new cases (31 the day before) in Tianjin and 87 new cases in Henan. Tianjin and Anyang took steps as of Sunday to test their entire population. The zero Covid policy defined by Beijing indeed requires cities with more than 5 million inhabitants to carry out a first round of tests in three days (two days for smaller cities) and to repeat this operation twice the following days. .

Special case of Tianjin

Located about thirty minutes from Beijing by high-speed train, Tianjin is a special case. The appearance of the Omicron variant so close to the capital, which is more than three weeks before the opening of the Winter Olympics and the Lunar New Year, puts the administrations on alert.

As of Sunday, the Beijing authorities were looking in neighborhoods, schools, businesses, people who had gone to Tianjin – or who had been in contact with a person coming from there – since December 9. Those who have been there since the 23rd are asked not to leave their homes.

In Tianjin, more than 75,000 people have been placed in quarantine, and the fourteen million residents can no longer leave the city without special permission and a negative test. It is now almost impossible to make any reservation on one of the trains that lead from Tianjin to Beijing, blockades have been put in place on the highways connecting the two megalopolises and, as of Sunday, more than 140 flights were canceled.

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The measures in Tianjin are admittedly less strict than in Xi’an, this city of Shaanxi of 11 million inhabitants where the population has been confined to their homes since December 22 after the appearance of dozens of daily positive cases – until 157 on December 27 – but Tianjin is still more or less cut off from the rest of China, and subway lines have been partially closed. The same situation in Anyang, where public transport has been drastically reduced and where 1,495 contact cases have been placed in quarantine.

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Three weeks before the Winter Olympics, Omicron at the gates of Beijing

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