Tianjin detects new virus cases, suspects food imports

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The port city of Tianjin reported six new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and 22 asymptomatic carriers from Sunday to 6 pm on Monday, officials said on Monday.

The preliminary evidence indicated the cases might be related to imported cold chain food.

All the cases were detected during a citywide round of nucleic acid testing on Sunday, Gu Qing, director of the Tianjin Municipal Health Commission, said at a news conference. Eighteen of the cases were detected in the city's Beichen district and 10 in Dongli district, he said.

Gene sequencing indicates they were infected with a version of the Omicron variant different from other cases.

"Some of the people infected were found to have worked in a cold chain storage in Dongli district," said Gu. "Samples from the outer packaging of food and the environment in the storage tested positive. We have initially concluded that the latest outbreak was related to imported cold chain food."

As of 6 pm on Monday, 321 close contacts and people with high risk have been traced and placed under quarantine. The two districts, with 1.8 million residents, will carry out a new round of nucleic acid testing from Monday to Wednesday.

All kindergartens, primary schools and high schools in the two districts will be suspended and online courses will be provided during the period, he said.

Gu also urged all residents in the two districts not to travel unnecessarily during the period.

The city will strengthen construction of makeshift hospitals and set aside more than 10,000 available beds, and medical institutions must not refuse any patients with an abnormal health code, or those coming from lockdown zones, controlled zones or precautionary zones.

All medical institutions should pay attention to special groups such as pregnant women, children, the elderly, and patients undergoing dialysis, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, Gu added.

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