Beijing 2022 Olympics: No new Covid-19 cases reported for first time

The Beijing Games have taken place inside a bubble, without paying spectators and with all participants tested daily.



Reuters
Reuters

By Reuters

Published: Thu 17 Feb 2022, 10:12 AM

No new cases of Covid-19 were reported inside the Beijing Olympics 'closed loop' on Thursday for the first time, a win for organisers who have gone to extreme measures to prevent the Games from seeding an outbreak that leaks into the public.

The Beijing Games have taken place inside a bubble, without paying spectators and with all participants - athletes, team officials, media, volunteers and staff - tested daily.

Some overseas analysts warned that the Winter Games would put further pressure on China's "zero-COVID" stance, especially as authorities battled the new and more infectious Omicron.

But though a total of 435 infections were found among the 1.6 million tests conducted since Jan. 23, daily case numbers have dwindled since the first week of this month.

"The daily Covid cases are falling, thanks to everyone strictly following the COVID prevention measures," said Huang Chun, deputy director general at the office of pandemic prevention and control at Beijing 2022.

"It also proves the closed-loop and Covid-19 control measures are effective," he added.

The Winter Olympics, which started on Febraury 4, are set to close on Sunday.

The Paralympics in Beijing are due to start on March 4 and will end on March 13. Huang said there are still nearly 14,000 people from overseas who remain in the bubble.

With the economic costs of containment set to rise, analysts expect Beijing to come under increasing pressure to relax zero-Covid restrictions once the Winter Olympics end.

"What you see since the middle of 2021 is that the impact on the economy has grown because there has needed to be wider and more aggressive containment measures," Michael Hirson, Asia director at the Eurasia Group consultancy, recently said.

However, the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned in a paper this month that vaccine efficacy still needed to improve before travel curbs could be lifted.

ALSO READ:

At Thursday's briefing, Huang described China's Olympic Covid measures as "a lesson in city-level Covid prevention" and could point the way towards a loosening of controls.

"We will continue assessing the Paralympics and hopefully this could be helpful for China's opening-up in the future."


More news from coronavirus