China locks down third city over Omicron fears in bid to save Winter Olympics

Five million residents of Beijing were confined to their homes on Tuesday after another megacity shuttered all non-essential businesses as the country attempts to prevent another surge of coronavirus cases.

The Chinese capital is hoping a high alert approach including border restrictions and long quarantines will help the zero-Covid strategy ahead of next month's Winter Olympics.

While strict measures have kept the number of new cases far lower than virus hotspots in Europe and the United States, China is facing local flare-ups in multiple cities.

Fast-spreading Omicron cases in Anyang and Tianjin have led to tighter coronavirus restrictions ahead of the winter games.

Authorities in Anyang announced a lockdown late on Monday after a reported 58 infections, issuing a notice ordering residents not to leave their homes or drive cars on the roads.

All non-essential businesses have been closed and a mass-testing drive has been launched, Xinhua state news agency reports: "to respond to the severe epidemic control situation and strictly prevent the spread of the Omicron virus outbreak."

The city now has a caseload of 84 since Saturday.

Local officials had already restricted outbound travel to "ensure that the outbreak does not spill over into outside areas".

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Under current restrictions in Zhengzhou, schools and kindergartens have been closed along with all non-essential businesses, with residents inching closer to a full lockdown.

Major port city Tianjin, adjacent to Winter Olympics venues Beijing and Hebei province, confirmed 10 new locally transmitted cases after ordering the testing of all 14 million residents.

Trains to the capital were cancelled and Zhang Boli, of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told local television that the Tianjin cluster is the first time Omicron has been detected spreading in China.

There are also flare-ups in southern China.

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Hong Kong's Omicron flare up allegedly began with returning airline crew.

The outbreak has upended the city's zero Covid success and seen a reintroduction of strict social-distancing measures including the closure of bars and gyms, and an end to evening restaurant dining.

Across the border from Hong Kong, the mainland tech hub of Shenzhen has also logged a handful of cases in recent days, sparking lockdowns of some housing compounds, a mass-testing initiative and travel restrictions.

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