The situation in China continues to deteriorate ahead of the start of the Winter Olympics in Beijing as authorities have confirmed 2 cases of the omicron variant in yet another city. This time, the new outbreak is coming from Dalian, another important port city.
On Wednesday, China reported about 170 new locally transmitted cases, with 118 in central Henan province, 37 in the northern port city Tianjin, eight in northwestern Shaanxi province (where the capital city of Xi'an has been locked down for almost three weeks) and seven in the southern technology hub of Shenzhen, according to the National Health Commission. There have also been new cases of the omicron variant detected in Dalian, as we mentioned above.
Three Chinese cities remain completely locked down, while Tianjin is only partially locked down (it has also been sealed off from outsiders; only those with permission are allowed to arrive and depart).
Meanwhile, in Tianjin, a city just 130 km from Beijing, authorities are tightening lockdown measures in three districts to try and stop the spread of COVID. Their biggest fear, of course, would be an outbreak in the capital city just in time to upend the Winter Olympics (the last thing the CCP wants is a disastrous Olympic Games like Japan struggled with over the summer).
In Tianjin, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and any other indoor sources of "entertainment" have all been closed. Its 14MM residents are also being required to undergo another round of city-wide mass testing.
Here's more details on the newest cases of omicron confirmed in Dalian, courtesy of Xinhua:
The two who returned from north China's Tianjin Municipality had tested negative for the virus when they left Tianjin on Jan. 8. They had reported negative test results on Monday, but both turned positive during the routine nucleic acid testing on Wednesday morning.
The two are college friends and had been in Jinnan District of Tianjin, a region hit hard by the recent virus resurgence in China, for about six days. They arrived in Dalian on Jan. 9 on an overnight train. Close contacts of the two have been put under medical observation and further epidemiological investigation is underway.
As a reminder, the cities under full lockdown include Xi'an, Anyang and Yuzhou. Goldman Sachs slashed its forecast for Chinese GDP growth in 2022 as the bank's analysts expect the burgeoning omicron wave to hamstring the Chinese economy. The Chinese media has insisted that the lockdowns aren't having a major impact on ports and chip manufacturers, but the notion that lockdowns wouldn't stifle economic growth is just a little too far-fetched to believe. Although a slowing commodity crunch has helped ease inflationary pressures in China.
What's more, Chinese health authorities have repeatedly confirmed new cases of omicron in increments of two. As we know, omicron doesn't spread like this. Where there are two cases, there are likely more. But if we have learned anything over the past two years, it's that China's numbers aren't to be trusted. Chinese authorities have suspended six more US flights in coming weeks amid a surge in passengers testing positive for COVID. This brings to 70 the number of cancellations this year.