China’s omicron-hit Tianjin launches a new round of mass Covid testing

January 13, 2022: -On Wednesday, the Chinese city of Tianjin began a new round of testing of its 14 million residents to block the omicron variant, as financial analysts warned of the growing economic costs on China of curbs to extinguish clusters of infections.

China was stuck to what is effectively a “zero-Covid” policy, is scrambling to prevent the spread of the infectious omicron variant ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday this month and as Beijing prepares to stage the Winter Olympics from February 4.

Japanese automaker Toyota said operations at its joint-venture factory in Tianjin had been halted since Monday because of the impact on its suppliers of mandatory coronavirus testing of Tianjin residents.

“We plan to resume operations by the government’s instructions, and the safety and security of the local community and suppliers are confirmed and assured,” Toyota said.

About 100 km southeast of Beijing, Tianjin reported 33 domestically transmitted coronavirus infections with confirmed symptoms for Tuesday, up from 10 days before, national data showed.

The city then ordered a half-day off for employees at companies and other institutions and required them to keep activities “relatively static” to comply with the city’s second round of mass testing, the local government said in a statement.

In the central province of Henan, the city of Anyang, where omicron was detected in the community, reported 65 local symptomatic cases on Tuesday, an increase from just two a day earlier.

A vice premier, Sun Chunlan, visited Henan and said omicron presented a challenge to the virus control efforts of the city.

On Thursday, Officials should “further surge the efficiency of testing and epidemiological investigation and adopt strict community-level control measures,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted her as saying in a report late.

Case numbers in Tianjin and Anyang are less than outbreaks in many different countries, with the number of omicron infections unclear.

Tianjin has made it harder for people to leave town, while Anyang has ordered residents to remain indoors during mass testing, unless for essential jobs or their tests.

Goldman Sachs analysts said that China will see ramped-up virus restrictions to contain omicron in a note, revised their 2022 growth forecast to 4.3% from 4.8% previously, which cited economic costs from the potentially intensified measures.