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COVID cases on the rise at Beijing Games, organisers not worried

Workers in PPE stand next to the Olympic rings inside the closed loop area near the National Stadium, or the Bird's Nest, where the opening and closing ceremonies of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will be held, in Beijing, China December 30, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

After 45 new COVID-19 cases were detected on Feb 4, the number of cases inside Beijing’s Winter Olympic Games bubble reached 19 for the second time since arrivals began, but organisers maintain the situation is under control and illnesses are confined to the ‘closed loop.’

The news: Cases among Olympic-related workers increased from 21 the day before, while cases in the bubble, which restricts the movement of Games attendees, increased from seven to 19, up from seven the day before.

  • The highest daily figure in the loop so far was 26 on Feb 2, followed by the highest total daily value of 55 on Feb 2.
  • While instances within the loop could continue to rise, organisers said there was no cause to be concerned.
  • Athletes, officials and media can travel between their lodging and all Olympic venues, including the media centre, via the loop, but only on official transportation.
  • They are not allowed to leave the bubble and roam freely throughout the city, as China seeks to reduce the chance of the coronavirus spreading during the Games.
  • Every participant must enter Beijing with two negative PCR tests performed within the previous 96 hours.
  • They are then tested at Beijing Airport before being subjected to a daily testing regimen throughout their stay in China.

What they’re saying: “The numbers (of overall positive cases) have been different every day,” Huang Chun, the Games’ deputy director-general of the office of pandemic prevention and control, told a news conference on Saturday.

  • He explained that the varying daily infection numbers from Games-related workers, which ranged from 55 on Feb 2 to two on Jan 23, were due to aeroplane arrival schedules, with some tests taking place after midnight.
  • “The day before yesterday we had almost 20 flights, many flights arriving at midnight,” he said. “Some of the numbers have to be accumulated to the next day.”

Facts and figures: So far, 2,877 athletes have arrived in Beijing, with a total of roughly 2,900 expected. Other visitors include members of the team’s support personnel, as well as officials from sports and competitions, as well as the media.

  • Since Jan 23, a total of 353 Olympic athletes have tested positive in Beijing, both at the airport and in the loop.
  • Hundreds of competitors have tested positive, and many are still in isolation, despite the fact that the Games have been officially underway since Friday.
  • According to the Swiss squad on Saturday, the latest cases involved two Swiss ice hockey players who were placed in isolation.

China has isolated itself with a zero-tolerance approach, cancelling practically all international flights, in contrast to many other countries striving to live with COVID-19.

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