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Two new cases of the omicron variant were detected in the central Chinese city of Changsha from arrivals into the country, state-backed media Xinhua reported Saturday citing the municipal government.
The provincial capital of Hunan is the latest place to discover the highly contagious variant in incoming travellers, after the southern province of Guangdong and the northern metropolis of Tianjin reported cases earlier this month. The infected people never left closed-loop quarantine controls and are being treated in hospitals, according to local health authorities.
Omicron has put China’s Covid-zero strategy under pressure, though no local transmissions of the variant have yet been reported. While China is less exposed to the spread of omicron because of its closed borders for now, increased risks are on the horizon.
Beijing will host the Winter Olympics in less than 50 days, when tens of thousands of foreigners will be allowed to enter the country. Reports recently show that Chinese shots given to the vast majority of its highly vaccinated population don’t provide sufficient antibodies against omicron.
China must maintain strict control measures at ports and borders ahead of the Olympic events, Liang Wannian, an epidemiologist who leads China’s special task force on the pandemic response, said at a press conference on Saturday.
Meanwhile, a local outbreak of non-omicron coronavirus continues to grow. China reported 44 locally transmitted cases on Sunday in Zhejiang, Shaanxi and Guangdong. Four other asymptomatic infections were reported, including one in the financial hub of Shanghai, according to the National Health Commission.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.