Tianjin is in the process of testing all 14 million of its residents over 48 hours after the discovery of a cluster of COVID-19 cases. Of the more than 20 cases discovered, two are the highly transmissible omicron variant. Residents have been advised to stay home until tested.
The city emerged as a new area of concern after the cases were reported from 6pm on Friday to 9pm on Saturday, with mass testing beginning early Sunday. Residents in four districts were to be tested in the first 24 hours, while other districts would be tested after that.
Tianjin was the first Chinese city to report the new omicron variant, when it was detected in an overseas returnee in mid-December. It is not yet confirmed whether the current cluster is related to the imported case.
The city is two hours' drive and 30 minutes by high-speed train from Beijing, and a major gateway to the Chinese capital. Commuters between Tianjin and Beijing have been told to work from home.
Tianjin residents must return a negative nucleic acid test result to get the green health code needed to use public transport, and have been advised not to leave town for unnecessary reasons.
Tianjin Airlines have said passengers with domestic flight tickets through January 28 were eligible for a refund or free rebooking.
The Tianjin commerce commission announced it has activated an emergency plan to ensure stable supply of food and daily necessities; the city's current stock of rice, noodles and oil is enough to last 30 days, while fresh vegetable supplies are enough for three to four days.
China reported 165 coronavirus cases on Saturday, up from 159 on Friday, the National Health Commission announced on Sunday.
Xi'an, which has been under lockdown for more than two weeks, reported 30 cases amid a waning outbreak.
Henan Province is now the focus of the latest outbreak, with 56 cases reported across five cities. Schools in provincial capital Zhengzhou have been suspended in an effort to effectively block further spread.
China has fully vaccinated more than 86% of its population of 1.4 billion, according to official data.
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[Cover image via @新浪广东城市频道/Weibo]