Officials in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin, near Beijing, said Sunday that its entire population of 14 million will be tested for the coronavirus after it was found in 20 residents, at least two of whom were infected with the fast-moving variant of Omicron.
The city has also announced a series of restrictions in an effort to contain the outbreak and trace its origins. The first infections are confirmed on saturday, in a 10-year-old girl and a 29-year-old woman working at an after-school center. Follow-up and testing later that day resulted in 18 more active tests among their contacts, including 15 students.
Tianjin is about 70 kilometers from Beijing, so the outbreak of cases is particularly worrying for China’s leaders, as the capital prepares to host the Winter Olympics in less than a month.
Li Hongzhong, secretary of the Communist Party of Tianjin, vows that the city will “maximize” its role as a “moat” protecting Beijing, an official news media.
“The city’s containment of the pandemic is at a critical juncture,” Mr. Li told the officials, according to the state-run Tianjin Daily. “Tracing the source of the outbreak must be the most urgent and important task.”
City-wide testing is nothing new for China. But even with the country’s vast resources to test residents and track their movements, handling the outbreak in Tianjin may not be easy.
Zhang Ying, deputy director of the Tianjin Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a press conference that the virus may have been “spreading in the community for some time” before it was discovered. Neither the 29-year-old woman nor the 10-year-old girl who tested positive recently had left Tianjin.
Government experts also said the strain of Omicron found in the two Tianjin residents may not be the same as that found in recent international visits to the city.
Many Chinese are proud that their country, since quelling the world’s first virus outbreak in Wuhan, has avoided the wave of infections that have pervaded most of the world. But the authoritarian state’s tight controls, which have kept China largely locked down, have not been able to completely stop the virus, and Omicron’s extreme ability to spread could cause a high level of infection. new danger.
The Tianjin government has ordered people to limit travel and not leave the city unless absolutely necessary. They also put about 30 residential areas under comprehensive lock and closed some subway stations.
But officials also seem to be trying to reassure people that Tianjin won’t do it again Xi’an’s missteps, a city of 13 million people in northwest China. Xi’an has seen public outrage after a rushed closure led to food shortages and several people being denied medical treatment, including at least one pregnant woman. . miscarriede after being denied admission.
Mr. Li, the political commissar of Tianjin, told local officials to ensure that residents receive their daily needs, including medical care.