COVID-19: China reports first case of Omicron amid outbreak of new Delta strain

Beijing, Dec 13 (PTI) China has reported its first case of Omicron variant of COVID-19 amid a spike in coronavirus infections stated to be that of new Delta strain “sub-lineage AY.4”, prompting authorities to bar millions of people in the eastern province from travelling.

The first case of Omicron variant of coronavirus was reported in Tianjin city in north China, state-run CGTN-TV reported on Monday.

A person who came from overseas was tested positive for the new variant, the report said.

Details on the person’s nationality or travel history were not immediately disclosed.

Officials said the individual is an asymptomatic COVID-19 patient and its respiratory specimen has shown existence of the Omicron variant on December 9 after tests.

The person was under closed-loop management since entry to Tianjin and is now being treated in isolation in hospital, the report said.

Meanwhile, China is experiencing a major outbreak of the Delta strain sub-lineage AY.4 in Zhejiang province where 138 locally-transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases and one asymptomatic carrier were reported between December 5 and 12, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Of the 138 cases, 44 were reported in Ningbo, 77 in Shaoxing and 17 in the provincial capital of Hangzhou.

The whole-genome sequencing and analysis found that the cases in the three cities were caused by the Delta strain sub-lineage AY.4, which is stated to be more transmissible and carries a higher viral load than the original novel coronavirus, the report said, quoting an official of the Zhejiang provincial centre for disease control and prevention.

Local authorities have imposed restrictions on public gatherings and travelling out of the province to prevent the virus from spreading further, it said. The province has a population of 64.6 million.

The Chinese mainland recorded 101 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday, with 80 linked to local transmissions and 21 from overseas, according to National Health Commission (NHC) data released on Monday.

A total of 17 new asymptomatic cases were also recorded and 444 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation.

NHC on Monday reported 80 new Covid cases, including 74 in Zhejiang, five in Inner Mongolia and one in Shaanxi provinces.

The spurt of coronavirus cases came ahead of the February 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, causing anxiety among the officials here.

China, which has effectively curbed international travel, has been reporting sporadic spurt of cases, raising questions of its zero-case policy of coronavirus.

As on Sunday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on mainland China reached 99,780 since the virus broke out in the central city of Wuhan in 2019. The death toll stands at 4,636.

While 1,381 patients, 27 in serious condition, are still under treatment, 93,763 have recovered so far, the NHC said.