China isolates 3rd city, more than 20 million people confined to the city

A third Chinese city has quarantined its residents due to a COVID-19 outbreak, bringing the number of people confined nationwide to about 20 million.

A third Chinese city has quarantined its residents due to an outbreak of COVID-19, bringing the number of people confined nationwide to about 20 million.

It was unclear how long the closure of Anyang, a city of 5.5 million people, will last. Mass coronavirus testing is underway, a standard procedure whenever authorities detect an outbreak.

Another 13 million people are confined in the city of Xi’an, and 1.1 million more in Yuzhou. In addition, restrictions have been imposed in the port city of Tianjin, barely an hour from the capital, Beijing, where the Winter Olympics will kick off on Feb. 4.

Huang Chun, a Games official responsible for disease control, said organizers are counting on the cooperation of athletes and authorities to prevent an outbreak that could affect participation.

If there is a mass transmission, it will certainly affect the Games and its schedule,” Huang said. The worst case scenario, if it happens, is independent of human will, so we are leaving our options open.

For its part, Hong Kong announced the closure of kindergartens and primary schools after registering contagions among pupils. The centers will close on Friday and will not resume classes until at least the Lunar New Year vacation in the first week of February.

Hong Kong has tightened restrictions in recent days after detecting the spread of the omicron variant.

Anyang’s confinement followed the confirmation of two cases of the omicron variant on Monday, believed to be linked to two others detected on Saturday in the city of Tianjin. This appears to be the first time the new strain of the coronavirus has spread in China beyond travelers from abroad and their close contacts.

Residents cannot leave their homes, non-essential vehicles cannot be driven and stores were ordered closed, except for those selling essential goods, according to the municipal notice issued by state media on Monday night.

Xi’an and Yuzhou have outbreaks of the delta variant and neither has reported cases of omicron. About 2,000 people have been infected in Xi™an, an ancient capital that is home to the Terracotta Warriors, in what is by far the largest outbreak recorded in the country in recent months