The Communist Party of China admitted on Sunday it had detected at least one case of the omicron variant of Chinese coronavirus in Beijing on Sunday, a less severe but more contagious iteration of the Wuhan disease.
The revelation that Beijing is now home to cases of omicron arrived less than a month before the beginning of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, whose Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for February 4. The Olympics have already prompted a global boycott movement as a result of China’s long list of ongoing human rights abuses against its own people, including genocide.
Only one country has declared a boycott of the Beijing Olympics: North Korea, which issued a statement expressing concern that participating in the Games would unnecessarily expose athletes, and North Koreans generally, to the Chinese coronavirus. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had banned North Korea from playing in the 2022 Games as a result of its absence in Tokyo, so the boycott is, at best, symbolic.
Other countries, such as New Zealand, have expressed support for the Olympics and will send their athletes to play, but will not send politicians to participate in the ceremonies surrounding the sports out of fear they could return with Chinese coronavirus cases – a fear that apparently did not extend to the wellbeing of the athletes.
China is currently fighting the worst outbreak of Chinese coronavirus nationwide since the pandemic began in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Multiple major cities – including Xi’an, a city of 13 million people, and Tianjin, a key port city of 15 million – are under total lockdown. As of last week, about 52 million people nationwide are under some form of government lockdown.
The Communist Party has largely blamed the delta variant, an earlier iteration of the virus originating in India, for the current outbreak – which began after the Party encouraged “red tourism” trips nationwide for its anniversary celebrations in October. Despite admitting that the first cases identified were individuals in a tour group that traveled from Shanghai to Inner Mongolia, Beijing repeatedly blamed unknown foreign sources of infection for the outbreak. As it has not been able to identify a foreign “patient zero,” the regime claims food imports and other inanimate objects brought the disease with them.
In Beijing, authorities blamed mail from Canada for the city’s first official omicron infection.
At least 2 #Omicron cases, one in #Beijing and another one in #Shenzhen, were suspected of tracking back to packages from North America. Virologists warn of high risk of packages from overseas causing domestic COVID-19 flare-ups. https://t.co/u608mWoc55
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 17, 2022
“The single Omicron case detected in Beijing was traced back to an international document from Canada, and it was found to have similar strains from those in North America and Singapore,” the Global Times, a state propaganda outlet, claimed Monday. “The Omicron variant was detected on the outer package, internal surface and papers of the mail, Beijing health authorities revealed on Monday.”
“The patient who was found with Omicron on Saturday had received an international mail on January 11 which was sent from Canada on January 7, transferred via the US and China’s Hong Kong region to Beijing,” the newspaper claimed, citing Chinese “experts” at a press conference on Monday who insisted the virus surviving on the surface of a letter for four days across the planet “cannot be ruled out.”
China’s health authorities are nearly alone on the world stage in treating coronavirus infection from contaminated surfaces as a concerning method of disease transmission.
“Because of the many factors affecting the efficiency of environmental transmission, the relative risk of fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is considered low compared with direct contact, droplet transmission, or airborne transmission,” a brief by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control from April 2021 read. “Fomite transmission” refers to contact with objects.
In December, the Communist Party staged a dramatic display of disinfectant all throughout the streets of Xi’an as its 13 million citizens were held under effective house arrest, baffling public health experts.
“Virus discharged to the outdoors can easily die, so there is no need to conduct large-scale disinfection outdoors, which is ineffective and a waste of limited resources,” Lu Ye, deputy director of the Environmental Health Institute of the Zhejiang Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said last month, according to the South China Morning Post.
At the press conference, authorities claimed the patient testing positive for omicron only touched one paper in the letter.
“The risk of the infection being further spread in Beijing is small because … all hot spots that the patient went to in the past 14 days before she was confirmed tested negative,” the newspaper claimed. “A total of 69 people were found as close contacts, and their testing results were also negative.”
Communist Party authorities insisted that, despite neighborhoods in Beijing locking down schools and threats of “more stringent measures” to contain the virus, the Winter Olympics would be a success.
“Wang [Guangfa, a respiratory expert] said the single case in Beijing will not impact the Winter Olympics, and that there is no need to overreact,” the state newspaper relayed. “However, the epidemiologist warned that the influx of participants from outside China may trigger infections within the closed-loop bubble.”
“Closed-loop” is the Communist Party euphemism for the total lockdown that Winter Olympic athletes and other guests will endure during their time in Beijing. The “closed-loop management” system is similar to the “bubble” used by the National Basketball Association (NBA) that did not let athletes leave a designated area for the duration of the 2020 playoffs.
Also threatening the upcoming Winter Olympics is the Lunar New Year holiday, considered the world’s largest annual migration. In 2020, China’s decision to curb travel within the country but allow Chinese citizens to leave the country resulted in 5 million people leaving Wuhan and infecting the world with the novel coronavirus that originated there.
“With imported [sic] outbreaks of the Delta and Omicron strains unfolding, China faces grim challenges when it comes to maintaining a safe and orderly Spring Festival travel rush as the annual migration is beginning,” the state-run Xinhua News Agency admitted on Monday, failing to clarify that the first known cases in the current coronavirus outbreak were Shanghai residents with no contact with the outside world.
China’s Ministry of Transport is predicting that 1.18 billion people will travel between January 17 and February 25, according to the news agency, even as ten provinces have reported the presence of the omicron variant and several major cities remain under lockdown.