Beijing Olympics officials: growing COVID cases ‘within controllable range’

COVID-19 confirmed cases at the Beijing Winter Olympics are within the “expected controllable range”, despite increasing positive cases being detected, a senior official at China’s Olympics Pandemic Prevention and Control Office said.

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Organizing Committee has reported 200 COVID cases since 23 January among airport arrivals and those in the Games’ “closed loop” bubble that separates all event personnel, including athletes, from the public.

“As more people are entering China the imported COVID-19 cases are increasing,” said Huang Chun, deputy director general of the committee’s Pandemic Prevention and Control Office at a press briefing.

Huang said rising cases were also a result of more effective and accurate COVID detection techniques by customs.

Games organisers reported a total of 24 new COVID cases among Games-related personnel on 31 January, of which 16 were athletes.

Many athletes have been shut out from the Games, which will run 4-20 February, after testing positive on arrival at the airport. While many more are put in isolation after testing COVID but are asymptomatic. r

“Getting to the Olympics is never easy, and this time, as a new mom, it has been the most challenging,” Elana Meyers Taylor, a three times Olympic medallist in bobsled, wrote on social media from her isolation hotel.

China credits the strict COVID control measures, including frequent nucleic acid tests, for helping prevent clustered cases inside the closed loop.

“(The COVID-19 situation) is generally within our expected controllable range. So the Games participants, including athletes, and Chinese public do not have to worry,” said Huang.

He said Olympics organisers were not considering any major changes to COVID control policies at the Games.

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