Coronavirus in China: 12 days before the Winter Olympics, Beijing screens a district of two million inhabitants

China continues to put in place drastic restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Above all, the capital is increasingly under pressure less than two weeks before the start of the Winter Olympic Games . The city of Beijing thus announced on Sunday that it was going to screen all the inhabitants of a district after the discovery of an epidemic focus.

The city reported last weekend a first case of the highly contagious variant Omicron in a person who had received a letter from Canada and on which traces of the virus were discovered. Since then, around thirty cases have been identified, some of which are linked to the Delta strain of the coronavirus. The district of Fengtai, located in the south of Beijing, is the epicenter of this outbreak.

Controversy around frozen products

As a preventive measure, all the inhabitants of the district will therefore be screened from this Sunday, the local authorities indicated, after the announcement of six new cases. The district has some 2 million inhabitants.

Fengtai is the district where the Xinfadi market is located, which had been in 2020 the epicenter of a previous outbreak linked to traces of virus on an imported salmon cutting board. China has since been particularly finicky with the cold chain and fears contamination with Covid-19 via products coming from abroad. The frozen food hypothesis at the origin of the Covid-19 epidemic in China has however been debunked by the World Health Organization.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, the authorities have applied a “zero Covid” strategy, with travel restrictions and targeted confinements, in order to limit the appearance of new cases. However, sporadic rebounds have occurred regularly in recent months and the country is doubling its vigilance as the Olympics (4- February) approach. The district of Fengtai is located at approximately 20 km from the site which is to host the Olympic events in freestyle freestyle skiing and snowboarding.

About a thousand kilometers from Beijing, the city of Xi’an will also lift its confinement on Tuesday, local authorities said on Saturday. The metropolis, which had been the new epicenter of the epidemic in China at the end of December, had imposed quarantine measures on its 13 million inhabitants. the strictest since Wuhan, the first city in the world put under a bell jar exactly two years ago at the start of the epidemic.