Chinese city of Tianjin begins mass testing after local omicron cases found

A large port city near the capital Beijing began testing its approximately 14 million residents on Sunday after at least two local cases of the highly transmissible variant of Omicron were discovered, state media reported.

Residents in four counties would be tested over the next 24 hours, while other counties would be tested the next day, the Tianjin government said.

The residents will only receive the green health code necessary for the trip if they get a negative result, it said.

The city advised residents not to leave the city for unnecessary reasons, the government said on Saturday.

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The Tianjin outbreak poses risks for Beijing and those to come Winter Olympics, because of the large numbers of commuters who work and live in the two cities, the state-run Global Times said, citing an unnamed immunologist.

It comes after the local transmission of the imported Omicron variant was found in the southern city of Guangzhou in December, according to a national health official, although the number of cases was not disclosed.

China reported 165 confirmed coronavirus cases on Jan. 8, up from 159 the day before, its health agency said on Sunday.

According to a statement by the National Health Commission, 92 of the new infections were transmitted locally, up from 95 the day before.

Most of the new local cases occurred in Henan and Shaanxi provinces.

China reported 46 new asymptomatic cases, which it classifies separately from confirmed cases, compared with 52 a day earlier.

There were no new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 4,636.

There were 103,619 confirmed cases in mainland China as of Jan. 8.

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