Weeks before the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022, China recorded its first local outbreak of the contagious variant in the northern port city of Tianjin. Located just 80 miles southeast of Beijing, the city is now testing its entire 14 million population after Omicron was detected in two local residents on Saturday.
Over the weekend, at least 40 positive cases were recorded, including 24 children, though health authorities have yet to confirm whether they tested positive for Omicron.
Now, according to the BBC, Beijing traffic officials have warned locals not to approach vehicles carrying Olympians even if they have a car crash.
Stephen McDonell, Chinese correspondent at the BBC, tweeted: “#Beijing traffic officials, worried about #OmicronVariant infections from visiting teams, have advised locals not to approach vehicles with Olympic athletes inside, even if they have a car crash.
“Imagine (please no) if a car crash happened and first aid was not administered quick enough to an Olympic athlete in Beijing because bystanders were waiting for emergency teams to arrive, as they’re now been told to do!”
Many others took to social media to express anger towards China’s harsh rules.
One Twitter user, known as Bushboy72, said: “No doubt, interesting times ahead.
“Watch this space.”
Another social media user, whose name is knupsbor, added: “Yeah bystander help is not something they really need to worry about.”
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He said: “It is impossible for China to return cases to zero before the Winter Olympics, because local outbreaks are springing up one after another.
“The only thing Beijing can do is to learn from the experience of the Tokyo Summer Games and hold the Olympics while community transmission is going on in the country,”
Compared to the Delta variant, Omicron is an even bigger challenge as it spreads faster and is harder to detect.
He continued: “Even if Tianjin completes its citywide testing, it might not be able to identify all the cases in the city.”
Beijing and Tianjin share a short border and an estimated 100,000 people commute between the two cities for work.
No spectators from outside China will be allowed to attend the Olympics, which will be held from February 4 to 20 in a “closed-loop” bubble.
And the estimated 2,900 athletes must be fully vaccinated or face 21 days’ quarantine upon arrival. They will also be tested daily.
Since last March, China imposed strict border controls in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
Families have been separated from each other with many unable to return to work from outside the country.
Last year, rules were eased slightly but those entering the country will still need to undergo weeks of hotel quarantine, monitoring and testing.
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