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Global Times

14 provincial-level places report imported Omicron cases: NHC official

Global Times

By Global Times Published: Jan 15, 2022 12:33 PM

A total of 14 provincial-level places in China have reported imported Omicron cases, and of them, cases in three provinces and one municipality are locally transmitted cases with the Omicron variant. An official from China's top public health body said that China faces dual challenges of imported Delta, Omicron variants, and its epidemic prevention and control work confronts a severe situation as the Spring Festival travel rush is approaching.

At least three Chinese provinces and one municipality have reported locally transmitted Omicron variant, with Zhongshan and Zhuhai in South China's Guangdong Province being the latest places. City of Zhongshan, with roughly 4.4 million people, started city-wide testing and imposing control on inbound and outbound non-Zhongshan vehicles since Friday.

The Omicron case in Zhongshan is linked to cases in Zhuhai, which reported seven locally-transmitted Omicron cases on Friday.

Those cases in Zhuhai were found after Zhongshan, adjacent to Zhuhai, reported one locally-transmitted case on Wednesday. The infection source found in Zhongshan remains unknown.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Zhongshan officials said they have completed taking samples of 4.98 million people. Zhongshan and Zhuhai have started jointly fighting COVID-19, which includes sending personnel, jointly coordinating their action and enhancing information-sharing.

Zhongshan also said it will restrict inbound and outbound non-Zhongshan vehicles. Certain areas in Zhongshan have suspended dine-in service in restaurants, shut down cinemas, bars, chess and card room, and other entertainment venues.

The Omicron case in Shanghai, which was detected on Thursday, also had the newest variant. The case was found when Shanghai was screening close contacts of an imported asymptomatic case.

He Qinghua, an official from the National Health Commission, said at a press conference Saturday that 14 provincial-level places reported imported Omicron cases, and as the new variant spreading across the world, the risk of it making inroads into China via people and objects is also increasing.

Tianjin is the first Chinese city to report Omicron community transmission. The variant has spilled over to Dalian of Liaoning and Henan Provinces.

He said that the spill-over risk from Tianjin is reducing, as new cases found in recent days are mainly from quarantine areas and that the number of cases in Henan is also decreasing.

He also said that it was taking longer to detect cases because large numbers of people are vaccinated, which prolongs the onset of, and in many cases, attenuated symptoms.

The official also cited increasing pressure from imported cases as routes of virus entering the country becoming more varied.

The official admitted that as China's COVID-19 prevention work confronts a severe situation as it faces threats from both Delta and Omicron variants, also with Spring Festival travel rush approaching.

Officials said that China's current nucleic acid test kits are still effective in detecting Omicron variant, and the country's dynamic zero-COVID strategy is also valid for fending off Omicron.

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