Beijing district orders mass testing ahead of Olympics

BEIJING (AP) — Residents of a Beijing district of 2 million people were ordered Sunday to undergo mass coronavirus testing after several infections, as China tightened controls against the disease ahead of the Winter Olympics.

The government told people in areas of the Chinese capital considered to be at high risk of contagion not to leave the city, after 25 cases were identified in the Fengtai district and 14 elsewhere.

The country’s ruling Communist Party has emphasized its “zero tolerance” strategy of isolating all those infected as Beijing prepares for the Winter Games, which begin on February 4, under strict virus checks.

Residents of Fengtai lined up for diagnostic tests on snow-covered sidewalks in frigid weather on Sunday.

The Chinese capital must “take the most resolute, strict and decisive measures to block the transmission chain of the epidemic,” municipal government spokesman Xu Hejian told a news conference.

“In principle, people in risk areas should not leave Beijing,” Xu said.

In total, 56 new cases were confirmed in the 24 hours to midnight on Saturday. The National Health Commission said 37 were believed to have been infected abroad.

China has reported 4,636 deaths out of 105,603 confirmed cases and seven suspected cases since the pandemic began.

The Olympic Games are held under strict controls that are intended to isolate athletes, reporters and officials from the outside world. Athletes will have to be so vaccinated or quarantine after arriving in China.

Other outbreaks prompted the government to ban travel in the big cities of Xi’an and Tianjin.

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