Beijing tightens rules for entering city

Beijing will require travelers to get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival in the Chinese capital.
Beijing tightens rules for entering city

Local residents queue up to take PCR test for COVID-19 near the Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest Stadium) on Sunday.

Beijing will require travelers to get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival in the Chinese capital, state media announced Sunday, a day after the city reported its first Omicron case and as it readies to stage the Winter Olympics next month.

On Saturday, the city reported the first local infection of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, involving a person who had visited multiple malls and restaurants in the previous 14 days. The person had not left the city since the start of 2022.

The new rule, effective from January 22 to end-March, is aimed to help with early detection of Omicron, which is surging globally, and the control of epidemic risks, Beijing Daily said on its social media account.

Already, the capital city requires inbound travelers to take a COVID-19 test within 48 hours of departure for the city and have a green code on the city's health tracking app.

The city and Hebei Province will host the Olympics, which start on February 4, inside a "closed loop" separating athletes and other Games personnel from the general public.

Tianjin, a neighboring city that is battling a COVID-19 outbreak involving Omicron variant, found 59 COVID-19 cases in its third round of mass testing starting on Saturday, He Peng, a local government spokesman, told a press conference yesterday.

So far, local cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in at least eight regions, prompting cities to impose curbs to stop its spread and threatening to further undercut slowing economic growth.

China has not said how many Omicron cases it has detected in total.

"It is too soon to conclude that Omicron will swamp China's efforts to suppress COVID," said Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics, in a note issued on Friday.

About 13,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in the Haidian District where the Beijing case was discovered, but none of the results came back positive, Beijing Daily cited official data as saying on Sunday.

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