China’s Capital Battles to Contain Virus Spread as Olympics Loom
- Beijing authorities reported nine new local cases on Saturday
- Two workers at cold storage plant among latest infections
A Covid-19 cluster in China’s capital Beijing continues to grow and shows early signs of spreading to neighboring provinces, adding pressure on authorities to contain the outbreak two weeks before the official start of the Winter Olympic Games.
Beijing reported nine new local coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing the total to 30 since a week earlier, according to a tally by official local media. The capital is emerging as the latest virus hotspot in China after health authorities scrambled to control omicron’s first domestic spread in Tianjin, near Beijing, and locked down Xi’an, a western Chinese city of 13 million, in the wake of a delta flareup.
Among Beijing’s latest cases are two workers at a cold storage plant in southwestern Fengtai district. Four other residents in the district tested positive for Covid-19 but have not shown any symptoms and are not included in the latest count of infected people. The Fengtai district faces risks of a “community spread” and screening will begin Sunday, according to an overnight notice by the local government.
While the Beijing case numbers are negligible compared with the rampant infections seen elsewhere in the world, any tiny flareup is met with aggressive containment efforts in the highly guarded city. The Winter Olympics will officially start on Feb. 4.
In neighboring Shanxi province, authorities said a resident who tested positive on Sunday worked in a cold storage plant in Beijing’s Fengtai district, as did a person who tested positive but was asymptomatic in Liaocheng city, Shandong, another neighboring province.
Officials in Shandong’s provincial capital, Jinan city, identified two local infections as cargo drivers who are close contacts with a Fengtai cold storage case.