China's Tianjin is in partial lockdown following the discovery of an omicron

BEIJING, (AP) -- Although the numbers are not large, the major port of Tianjin could be experiencing China's first local outbreak. This is less than a month prior to the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

China's Tianjin is in partial lockdown following the discovery of an omicron

CCTV, the state broadcaster, reported that Tianjin's 14 million inhabitants have been divided into three levels of restrictions. These include lockdown areas in which people are prohibited from leaving their homes. Each household can have one member of its family leave for groceries every other day in control areas. However, residents must stay within their immediate neighborhood in prevention areas.

People are being asked not to travel from Tianjin or Beijing by trains and buses unless they have urgent business.

After a group of 20 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, the city started mass testing all of its residents. On Sunday, another 20 people were confirmed to have contracted the virus. This brings the total number of cases to 40. Officials stated earlier that the virus was still in circulation so there is a possibility of more cases.

China has intensified its zero tolerance policy in preparation for the Olympics which will open February 4. It is located 115 km (70 miles) north of Tianjin. Many people travel regularly by car or high-speed rail, which takes less than an hour.

Millions of people in Yuzhou and Xi'an, which are further away, are being held back by the large number of cases. Residents in Xi'an were under lockdown for over two weeks. However, the number of cases in the 13 million-strong city fell to 15 Monday. This is a sign that the restrictions may soon be lifted. Yuzhou, a city with around 1.1 million residents in the neighboring province of Henan, is one example.

Monday saw another 60 cases in Henan. Two of them were of the omicron variety and were found in Anyang. They were apparently brought from Tianjin on Dec. 28 by a student, state media outlet The Paper reported. Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, has been closing its schools and conducting mass testing. On Monday, another 24 cases were reported.

Two cases were confirmed in Tianjin: a 10-year old girl and a 29 year-old woman who worked at an after-school centre. Both were infected with the omicron variant. During testing, 18 other close contacts were positive while 767 were negative.

The infected students range from 15 to 13 years of age, as well as the after-school centre staff member and four parents. Two days of testing will be required to test the entire city. To prevent any further spread, Tianjin also shut down two subway stations along two lines.

China reported approximately a dozen cases of omicron previously. Most were among those who had traveled from overseas and had been isolated. One case, in December, was only discovered after two weeks of quarantine. It spread to close friends in Guangzhou.

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