Lockdowns Expand in Greater Beijing 9 Days Before Olympics

Workers deliver a cart loaded with equipment to a commercial plaza at the Winter Olympic Village in Beijing, Friday, Dec. 24, 2021. Organizers on Friday gave the media a look at parts of the athletes' Olympic Village for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which will be held beginning in …
Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Chinese Communist Party officials locked down much of the city of Sanhe, which borders Beijing, on Wednesday — just nine days before Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics — after detecting a new Chinese coronavirus infection in a Sanhe resident who commutes to Beijing daily, the Global Times reported.

After confirming Sanhe’s new coronavirus patient on the morning of January 26, local Communist Party authorities issued edicts to “suspend all bus lines and close communities” within seven regions of the city.

“Seven towns, districts and streets in the city have been categorized as ‘controlled areas’ or ‘prevention areas,’ including Yanjiao town, which is around 30 kilometers [18.6 miles] from Beijing’s Central Business District,” China’s state-run Global Times reported on January 26.

“Starting from 6 am Wednesday, all villages, communities and enterprises in these [seven] regions [of Sanhe] were blocked and closed, leaving only one entrance for every community or village,” the newspaper relayed, citing a notification released by Sanhe’s municipal government.

People wear protective masks as they walk in front of the logos of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival on February 26, 2021, in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

The notice additionally forbade affected residents from leaving their homes for an indefinite amount of time starting Wednesday morning.

Yanjiao is a town within the city of Sanhe. The town contains 55 villages and “is home to hundreds of thousands of people who work in Beijing and commute between the two cities [Sanhe and Beijing],” according to the Global Times.

Beijing, China’s national capital, is scheduled to host the 2022 Winter Olympics from February 4 to February 20. The city has created a “closed-loop” management system for the Games aimed at separating all Olympic athletes and staff from greater Beijing in a theoretically virus-free bubble. The fresh outbreak of the disease in Sanhe on January 26, just nine days before the international sporting competition is set to begin, suggests Beijing may not be able to seal off the event from viral infections as it has imagined.

Beijing itself detected eight new cases of the Chinese coronavirus this week in the 24-hour period between January 25 and January 26. The additional infections “brought the total cases in the Delta-related outbreak [of Beijing] since January 15 to 69 as of press time,” Pang Xinghuo, the deputy director of Beijing’s Center for Disease Prevention and Control, told reporters on January 26.

“For the Omicron-related outbreak in Beijing … no fresh cases on this transmission chain were reported for three days and the related cases reported in Beijing were six in total since January 15,” Pang added.

Seven out of eight of Beijing’s new coronavirus cases were traced to the city’s Fengtai district. Sanhe’s new Chinese coronavirus patient, detected on January 26, commuted daily between Sanhe and Beijing’s Fengtai district for work prior to testing positive for the virus on Wednesday.

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