China reports more cases of Omicron, authorities on high alert
China reported more cases of the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant on Monday, with authorities on high alert over flare-ups in major cities just weeks ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The emergence of the fast-spreading variant is yet another test of China's zero Covid strategy, with authorities already battling several outbreaks -- including in Xi'an where 13 million city residents were in their third week of lockdown.
Fears grew about a cluster of infections in the northern city of Tianjin, which was linked to two Omicron cases reported Monday in the city of Anyang around 400 kilometres (250 miles) away.
"The general public should not leave Tianjin unless essential to do so," city officials said in a statement Sunday.
Those who need to leave must obtain official permission and test negative for the virus within 48 hours of their departure, it added.
Schools and university campuses have been closed, and trains into Beijing from Tianjin have been cancelled. Road checkpoints have been set up for vehicles entering the capital.
Tianjin -- just 150 kilometres from Beijing -- has already ordered the testing of all 14 million residents.
Another 21 cases were reported in the city Monday, although the strain of virus wasn't confirmed.
Footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed masked people in Tianjin's Nankai district queueing for virus tests on Sunday from medical workers in white hazmat suits.
Gu Qing, director of the Tianjin Municipal Health Commission, told reporters at the weekend that the new cases are "mainly students and their parents who go to the same nursery and school."
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