The Winter Olympics begin on February 4, in China.
With a month and a half of the kickoff of the Olympic Games , the shadow of Covid continues to hover around the event.
Chinese authorities said Thursday 23 December to be ready to face epidemic outbreaks during the Beijing Winter Olympics (4 – 20 February 2022), with designated hospitals to send athletes who test positive
“There will certainly be infections and it is possible that a small-scale outbreak of contamination will occur” , said Huang Chun, in charge of monitor the spread of the virus during the Beijing Winter Olympics, during a briefing. According to him, the event presents a “very high risk of transmission” .
“There will be a number of positive cases” , said another head of the organizing committee, Han Zirong. “This is a high probability event” of transmission of the coronavirus, she added.
China has adopted a “zero Covid” strategy since the middle of last year: strict border restrictions, localized confinements, long quarantines and population tracing. It thus officially succeeds in keeping infection rates at a very low level.
A single case can lead to massive screenings or lockdowns. Political leaders found to be at fault have also been dismissed from their posts.
The country has reinforced already very strict measures in anticipation of the arrival of thousands of foreign athletes for the Olympics. The capital Beijing now requires negative Covid tests for all visitors and limits flights from other cities.
In addition to the mandatory vaccinations before landing in China, all athletes must undergo daily screening tests. Officials further urged athletes to recall the Covid vaccine – . Athletes who test positive will not be allowed to participate in the Games.
Asymptomatic patients will be quarantined on site, while patients with symptoms will be sent to previously designated hospitals in Beijing and Zhangjiakou, said Huang Chun.
During the test events – a sort of dress rehearsal for the Olympic Games – three athletes tested positive for Covid – 19. Officials assured that these cases were all “dealt with quickly and efficiently, and that the transmission and spread of the virus did not take place” .
“The Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games must strictly apply the principles and requirements of the Chinese government for the prevention and control of the virus” , for his part hammered Han Zirong.