BEIJING, Jan 13 (Reuters) - China's northern port city of
Tianjin reported an increase in COVID-19 infections on Thursday
as it stepped up efforts to rein in an outbreak that has spread
the highly transmissible Omicron variant to another city.
Omicron has brought new challenges for China's strategy to
quickly stamp out outbreaks, which has taken on urgency ahead of
the Winter Olympics set to start from Feb. 4, while the busy
Lunar New Year travel season begins this month.
Volkswagen Group's China unit said it had shut a
vehicle plant run jointly with FAW Group in Tianjin, as well as
a component factory since Monday due to the
Tianjin, located about 100 km (62 miles) from the capital
Beijing, reported 41 domestically transmitted infections with
confirmed symptoms on Wednesday, up from 33 a day earlier,
National Health Commission data showed.
Dalian in the northeast also reported an individual arriving
from Tianjin had tested positive for Omicron, city officials
said. It said the virus situation was "largely controllable".
Anyang in the central province of Henan reported 43 local
symptomatic cases on Wednesday, after two Omicron infections on
Monday. It traced the flare-up to a student from Tianjin.
Case numbers in Tianjin and Anyang are tiny compared with
outbreaks in many other countries, though the number of local
Omicron infections is unclear. Still, officials imposed curbs on
movement within the cities and outside.
Several cities across China have ordered quarantine for
recent visitors to the two cities. Beijing is among the many
cities urging people to stay put during the Lunar New Year
Citing the Omicron risk and the need to keep the Olympics
Games safe, officials in the capital encouraged commuters from
satellite towns to work from home.
There were no new deaths on Wednesday, leaving the toll
since the virus was first found two years ago in China unchanged
Zhang Wenhong, director of a COVID-19 treatment team in
Shanghai, said on Thursday the public health clinic in the
commercial hub faced a record number of infections arriving from
Imported cases in Shanghai during the first 10 days of this
month have already exceeded December's total, Reuters
calculations showed. How many were caused by Omicron is unclear.
China has suspended more U.S. flights after a surge in
numbers of infected passengers.
Its tough measures against local outbreaks included
punishment for officials, with 11 people held to account in
Anyang by Wednesday for failing to properly control the virus.
On Thursday, city authorities in the ancient town of Xian
ordered two hospitals to suspend operations for three months for
failures in providing medical care during the outbreak.
The move drove down shares of their owner, XiAn
International Medical Investment Co, by 10%, or the
maximum permitted daily percentage change.
One of the hospitals apologised for rigid virus controls
that delayed treatment for a patient who suffered a heart attack
The story of a pregnant woman who lost her unborn baby after
waiting for two hours outside the other hospital provoked anger
on Chinese social media and brought punishment for city
(Reporting by Roxanne Liu, Ella Cao and David Stanway; Editing
by Tom Hogue and Clarence Fernandez)