The other day, the English-language press picked up on a rumor that President Xi of China had implored his ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, not to invade Ukraine until after the Winter Games. Anonymously-sourced leaks like these are often propaganda, not truth. But as the Games draw near, the Communist government is tightening the screws on the city of Beijing as COVID continues to spread - albeit, more slowly - despite their draconian measures.
Reuters reports that the CCP has expanded its localized lockdowns in Beijing, restricting movement to those who live within a growing number of neighborhoods and housing complexes, and prohibiting outsiders from entering.
For example, Beijing's Fengtai district said late on Wednesday residents in a new swath of areas should not leave their residential compounds for unnecessary reasons and must be tested daily for COVID.
Beijing has some reason to target the district: it has produced more local cases than any others, at least going by what the CCP has admitted publicly.
The area had already locked down some compounds that house tens of thousands of people, while several other city districts have restricted the mobility of their residents.
China's NHC said Beijing saw just five locally transmitted infections confirmed for Wednesday, down from 14 a day earlier.
Locals who spoke with Reuters anonymously indicated that they are all terrified of getting COVID for fear of provoking the government's wrath.
"I'm anxious everyday because the virus situation is still quite serious," said a traveler surnamed Wang at Beijing Railway Station. "I don't want to bring trouble to my hometown. Now I'm tested negative, but what if it changes to positive?"
Beijing has already locked down some compounds that house tens of thousands of people. Several other city districts have imposed mobility restrictions in certain areas. Meanwhile, elsewhere in China, travel has surged during the Lunar New Year holiday. Travel during the first ten days of the holiday season has risen 46% from last year.
Local authorities in charge of the Winter Games said 23 new cases were detected among Games-related personnel on Jan. 26, including eight among those already in the closed-loop Olympics bubble. The rest were discovered upon arrival at the airport.
China isn't alone. Cases are climbing elsewhere in Asia. For example, in Japan, Tokyo is reportedly facing "an explosive infection situation due to an omicron-fueled wave that's driving daily case numbers to record highs. Top Japanese health authority Norio Omagari said newly recorded daily infections in Tokyo could exceed 24K in a week if the current trend continues. The capital city reported 16.5K cases on Thursday.