Beijing Declares ‘Critical War’ Against Omicron Variant

A resident gets swabbed during a mass COVID test, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in Beijing. Workers put up fencing and police restricted who could leave a locked-down area in Beijing on Tuesday as authorities in the Chinese capital stepped up efforts to prevent a major COVID-19 outbreak like the one …
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Beijing’s government is “waging a critical and decisive war” against the omicron variant of the Chinese coronavirus, China’s state-run Global Times reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper detailed the Communist Party’s response to Beijing’s latest outbreak of the Chinese coronavirus as of April 26, writing:

Beijing is waging a critical and decisive war against the Omicron variant with the strictest measures on community management, largest-ever nucleic acid testing, suspending gathering activities, tracking down transmission routes, and urgently mobilizing the public to ensure the safety of local residents and the country’s political center, as the COVID-19 tally in the capital city rose to 92 in five days.

It remains unclear why Beijing, which has an estimated population of 21.3 million, would feel the need to take a war-like stance against what it claims is a relatively minuscule Chinese coronavirus outbreak of 92 cases. The attitude seems especially incongruous given China’s ruling Communist Party admitted on Tuesday that the majority of new cases of the disease in Beijing currently are of the omicron variety.

Workers line up for COVID test outside an office building on Monday, March 14, 2022, in Beijing. Chinese authorities reported more than 1,300 locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 across dozens of mainland cities Monday as the fast-spreading variant commonly known as "stealth omicron" fuels China's biggest outbreak in two years. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Workers line up for COVID test outside an office building on Monday, March 14, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Omicron is a variant of SARS-CoV-2, which is a type of coronavirus that causes the disease known as “Covid-19.” (“Covid-19” is alternatively known as the Chinese coronavirus). The World Health Organization described omicron as “currently the dominant [Chinese coronavirus] variant circulating globally” in late February. The scientific journal Nature Reviews Immunology published a paper in late January in which it stated omicron was “considerably milder” than previous strains of SARS-CoV-2, such as Delta.

The paper observed the following:

The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 escapes immunity generated by vaccines and previous infections yet seems to have some unexpected advantages over the other variants we have experienced so far. Firstly, and most importantly, strong evidence is emerging that the disease induced by infection with Omicron is considerably milder at the population level. Secondly, infection with Omicron has been shown to trigger cross-protective immunity to the more pathogenic Delta variant, which together with Omicron’s advantage in transmissibility, may set Delta on the path to extinction.

Beijing’s determination to stamp out its largely omicron outbreak of the Chinese coronavirus was demonstrated on April 25 when city health officials ordered nearly 20 million Beijing residents to undergo testing for the disease. The South China Morning Post revealed on April 27 that “[o]nly a dozen positive samples were found in Beijing’s first round of mass Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] testing.”

“A sudden spike in cases over the weekend prompted the launch of a three-round testing programme in its biggest district on Monday [April 25], which was then expanded across most of the city as a precaution,” according to the newspaper.


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