Beijing Olympics organizers announced on Sunday, Jan. 23, that 72 instances of COVID-19 had been verified among almost 2600 Games-related workers who entered China between Jan. 4 and Jan. 22, with no cases among the 171 athletes and team officials who arrived during that time.

According to Reuters, Organizers said 39 verified cases were discovered during testing at the airport and 33 inside the loop. Between Jan. 4 and Jan. 22, more than 335,000 PCR tests were administered to participants in the bubble.

Final preparations for the Winter Games are ongoing, despite a worldwide outbreak of the highly infectious Omicron strain. The Games will be inside a “closed-loop” bubble that separates all event staff from the general public from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20.

Beijing faces a high risk of community transmission.

On Jan. 23, Beijing authorities held a press conference to report new confirmed cases in the city. The report said that the current outbreak consists of two chains of viral transmission, namely the Omicron and the Delta. The authorities also want to expand the areas of containment and control.

On Jan. 22, Beijing officials reported new confirmed cases involving Haidian, Chaoyang, Fengtai, Fangshan, and Daxing districts of Beijing.

As of now, there is one high-risk area in Beijing, located in Fengtai District, and one medium-risk area, located in Fangshan District.

In addition, the official notification also said that Fengtai District has recently emerged as an aggregated outbreak, and there is a risk of community transmission.

According to the official notification, the outbreak in Beijing has spread to Datong in Shanxi province, Jinan in Shandong province, Liaocheng in Shandong province, and Hebei province.

In addition, Zhang Wenhong, director of the Department of Infection at Shanghai Huashan Hospital, said in a written proposal submitted to this year’s “two sessions” meeting in Shanghai that recent outbreaks in several Chinese regions have an unclear origin. Furthermore, as most Omicron cases are asymptomatic, detecting many infected patients early enough is difficult.

He suggested that to deal with the threat of a new pandemic wave; the authorities should be prepared for an epidemic five to ten times larger than the current one.

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