the Beijing Winter Olympics have eased a Covid-19 testing requirement for competitors.
Winter Olympics 2022: The new modification makes it easier for participants to be virus-free when they arrive at the Games. Since the 4th of January, 106 of the over 3,000 Olympic participants have tested positive for the virus. Outside of the tournament’s closed-off grounds, Beijing residents are subjected to stricter restrictions and new lockdowns. Following the discovery of a number of locally transmitted cases earlier this week, about two million inhabitants in Beijing’s Fengtai area have been ordered to undergo testing.
Locals who purchased over-the-counter medications for fever or cough symptoms were also instructed to take a test within three days of purchase. As part of Beijing’s zero-Covid goal, Chinese officials hope to eradicate small outbreaks of the virus before the Games begin on February 4th.
However, Games officials expect more cases to surface, with Dr Brian McCloskey, chair of the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 medical expert team, telling a media briefing on Sunday that the organisers’ goals were “zero spread” rather than “zero cases.”
The issue, he explained, was for organizers to swiftly identify and isolate positive persons. However, in what appears to be a concession to the reality of the virus’s spread, Games authorities introduced a minor modification in testing restrictions on Tuesday. To be considered positive for the virus, participants must now meet a cycle threshold (CT) of 35 rather than 40.
“You can either set the bar very low to make sure nobody is getting through the system who might be infectious – or you can set the bar higher to try and make sure nobody gets excluded from the Games because of a false positive test,” he said according to an SCMP report.
The greater a person’s CT value, the less infectious he or she is. Despite the fact that the 30-35 value is commonly accepted worldwide, China initially chose the higher level of viral load. Close contacts would also have their isolation time cut in half, from 14 to seven days. Those who test positive for Covid during the Games will be eligible to compete in the tournament following two negative tests. In his briefing on Sunday, Dr. MrClosky stated that organizers were attempting to strike a balance for Games attendees.
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