Beijing: A day after Beijing reported its first case of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant and as it readies to host the Winter Olympics next month, strict new COVID-19 restrictions come into force in the city.
Beijing will now require travellers to get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival in the Chinese capital, reported Taipei Times. The new rule, effective from Saturday to the end of March, is aimed to help with early detection of Omicron, which is surging globally, and the control of epidemic risks, Beijing Daily, a government newspaper, said on social media.
The city on Saturday reported the first local infection of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, involving a person who had visited multiple malls and restaurants in the previous 14 days. The person had not left the city since the start of this year, reported Taipei Times.
The capital already requires inbound travellers to take a COVID-19 test within 48 hours of departure for the city and have a "green" code on the city's health tracking app.
The city and neighbouring Hebei Province is to host the Olympics, which start on February 4, inside a "closed-loop" separating athletes and other Games personnel from the public.
In Tianjin, a neighbouring city that is battling an outbreak involving the Omicron variant, officials found 59 COVID-19 cases in its third round of mass testing starting on Saturday, He Peng, a local government spokesman, told a news conference yesterday, reported Taipei Times.
So far, local cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in at least five provinces and municipalities, prompting cities to impose curbs to stop its spread.
Moreover, some religious sites in the city were being closed to visitors as a precautionary measure. Lama Temple, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in central Beijing, said it was closing down for an unspecified period due to the COVID-19 epidemic and control measures, reported Taipei Times.