China is confident that next February’s Winter Olympics will go ahead “smoothly and successfully” despite the growing challenges posed by the new Omicron coronavirus variant, the country’s Foreign Ministry said recently.
Relying on snap lockdowns and a rapid vaccination rollout, China has largely managed to control its Covid-19 situation, with official figures placing the country’s total cases since December 2019 at 98,672, including 4,636 deaths.
As Beijing gears up to host the 2022 Winter Olympics from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20, the world is bracing for a new wave of the pandemic after the emergence of the Omicron strain, which the World Health Organization has said carries a very high risk of infection.
“Omicron will bring challenges to the Covid-19 prevention work at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. But China has experience in dealing with the coronavirus … [and] is confident that the event will proceed smoothly and successfully,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, according to Chinese daily Global Times.
Xu Wenbo, an official from China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the country’s existing Covid-19 response strategy “should be sufficient for tackling the new omicron variant.”
“China will continue to conduct detailed survey on epidemiological studies and gene testing,” he said at a briefing recently, reported Global Times.
“Our vaccines remain effective against the new mutated variant omicron, but to better cope with this new variant, China has made technological reserve preparations in vaccine development.” Data from the National Health Commission shows more than 1.1 billion people in China have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with over 2.49 billion doses administered in the country to date.