Beijing Is the Epicenter of China’s Coronavirus Spike Four Days Before Olympics

Beijing Olympics
NOEL CELIS/AFP

Health officials in Beijing recorded the city’s highest number of new Chinese coronavirus cases on Sunday since June 2020, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, making the national capital the epicenter of China’s latest coronavirus outbreak just four days before Beijing is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) announced Beijing’s coronavirus caseload for January 30 in a press release. The statement revealed 20 “new cases of confirmed infections” across Beijing metropolis, “including 13 in Fengtai district, 4 in Daxing district, 2 in Chaoyang district and 1 in Xicheng district.”

“Beijing’s tally of 20 new cases on Sunday [January 30] was the city’s highest since June 2020,” AFP observed.

“Residents in the Anzhenli neighborhood in Beijing’s Chaoyang district were locked down on Saturday [January 29], and will not be allowed to leave their compound,” the Associated Press (AP) reported on January 30.

Chinese Communist Party officials additionally sealed off “some residential compounds” in Beijing’s Fengtai district, as of January 29 to contain a local coronavirus outbreak, according to the AP.

Beijing and the 2022 Winter Olympics organizing committee have created a separate “bubble” for the 2022 Winter Games meant to separate all athletes and staff associated with the event from Beijing’s greater population. The “closed-loop” management system was designed to prevent transmission of the Chinese coronavirus among Olympic participants, though organizers of the Games revealed on Saturday that some athletes had tested positive for the Chinese coronavirus while inside the “bubble.”

BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 16: (EDITOR'S NOTE: This image was created with a tilt and shift lens) A general view the Birds Nest stadium, the venue for opening and closing ceremonies for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing Olympic Tower on January 16, 2022 in Beijing, China. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are set to open February 4th. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Birds Nest stadium, the venue for opening and closing ceremonies for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing Olympic Tower on January 16, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

The Olympics organizing committee said on January 29 it detected 34 new coronavirus cases “among athletes and others who have come for the Games.”

“In all 211 people have tested positive among more than 8,000 who had arrived by the end of Saturday. They include a Swedish cross-country skier and a snowboarder from Slovenia,” according to the committee.

The AP noted on Sunday that any person who tests positive for the Chinese coronavirus while inside the Olympic “bubble” must isolate in a state-run hospital or quarantine facility.

The parallel Olympic ecosystem will remain in place for the duration of the 2022 Winter Games, which will last from February 4 through February 20.

The bubble will cut off “60,000 competitors, journalists and the Chinese workforce looking after them … from local people [in Beijing],” AFP reported on January 30. People inside the “closed-loop” are subjected to twice daily tests for the Chinese coronavirus.

“Wire fences seal off the area containing the Olympic venues and media centre in Beijing from the rest of the capital and the only way in is by shuttle bus or approved taxi,” the news agency observed.

“Security guards bar the way of anyone who tries to walk out of the hotel grounds,” according to AFP.

“Bags are scanned as guests leave their hotels. Before boarding the bus, they must walk over to two cabins where staff in full protective gear awkwardly carry out mouth swabs from behind a plexiglass screen,” AFP, which has sent its own reporters to Beijing to cover the 2022 Winter Games, relayed.

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