Chinese Residents Living 1 Mile From Olympic Village in Isolation Over COVID Concerns

Chinese authorities imposed new mass testing and restrictions just two weeks before the Winter Olympics by placing Beijing residents living near the Olympic Village under lockdown amid a cluster of coronavirus cases reported in the city.

The newest lockdown is part of China's "zero-tolerance" COVID-19 policy. An increased number of cases have set off alarm bells for Chinese officials who implemented the second round of mass testing for residents and targeted lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus ahead of the Olympics, The Associated Press reported.

A least six Beijing neighborhoods have been placed under lockdown. The AP said residents living about one mile from the Olympic Village were unable to leave their homes from Sunday morning until Tuesday afternoon. At least one building is still on lockdown.

The Beijing Winter Olympics organizing committee confirmed Monday six new COVID-19 cases were connected to the Games. Four of the cases were from new arrivals and two people were already in the Olympic bubble. At least four locally transmitted cases were reported in the Fengtai district, per Forbes.

Fengtai district's 2 million residents will undergo another round of mass testing after most of the capital's 40 cases reported since January 15 came from that region, the AP reported.

The COVID-19 outbreak in Fengtai was reportedly from the Delta variant. According to Time, Chinese health officials alleged the outbreak is connected to imported frozen foods. However, experts are skeptical COVID-19 can easily spread on packages.

"The current epidemic prevention situation is still grim and complicated and all departments across the city must act proactively and swiftly," said Beijing city spokesperson Xu Hejian.

"The overall situation is controllable," he added.

One resident at Anzhen community said that the authorities have not provided a lot of details about what is going on with the lockdown.

"I don't worry too much but I hope the situation can be more transparent," a man, who asked to remain anonymous, told the AP.

"We are close to the Olympic Village and if they want to test everyone ahead of the Games, we understand, but now the community has been locked down and we were told nothing."

Chinese residents were also required to keep track of their health for the next two weeks following quarantining. New policies were implemented in Beijing requiring mandatory testing within 72 hours for residents who bought medication to treat flu or cold-like symptoms in the past two weeks.

If people fail to get tested for COVID-19 in the allotted time, their health status on their phones changes, "possibly affecting your going out and daily life," a Beijing pharmacy notice said, per the AP.

Areas of Beijing Placed Under Lockdown
A medical worker is seen testing for COVID-19 in Beijing, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. Some residents living a mile from the Olympic Village have been placed under lockdown after a cluster of COVID-19 infections were reported. Andy Wong/AP Photo