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Despite Omicron's concerns, Beijing Olympics would be held successfully

The Games will be held without foreign spectators in Beijing and neighbouring Hebei from February 4 to February 20

Despite Omicrons concerns, Beijing Olympics would be held successfully
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Despite obstacles posed by the novel Omicron coronavirus type, China said on Tuesday that it expects the Winter Olympics in Beijing to run "smoothly" and on time in February.

"I believe it will definitely pose some challenge to our efforts to prevent and control the virus, but as China has experience in preventing and controlling the coronavirus, I fully believe that China will be able to host the Winter Olympics as scheduled, smoothly and successfully," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said at the daily ministry briefing on Tuesday.

The Games will be held without foreign spectators in Beijing and neighbouring Hebei from February 4 to February 20.

All athletes and accompanying workers will be kept in three different clusters in a "closed-loop" surrounding the sites, and will be subjected to daily testing for Covid-19.

Travel restrictions, emergency lockdowns, and large-scale testing have helped China keep the Covid-19 pandemic within its borders, but recurring domestic breakouts, recently linked to the Delta strain, have kept officials on high alert.

The bulk of Chinese citizens have also been immunised.

As of Monday, more than 1.1 billion people in China had received their Covid-19 immunisation, according to a representative for the National Health Commission (NHC).

Mi Feng, a representative for the National Health Council, said on Tuesday that over 2.5 billion vaccine shots had been given out.

"China has already done a good job of technical preparations" for the Omicron variant, said Xu Wenbo, head of the virus control institute at China's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"We have many lines of technical research, including preliminary technical research into deactivated vaccines, protein-based vaccines and vector-based vaccines," he said at the NHC briefing on Tuesday.

The WHO has cautioned that the Omicron form, which has now been verified in Europe, Canada, Israel, and Hong Kong, could not only spread more quickly, but also evade immunity from earlier infections and vaccines.

"Given mutations that may confer immune escape potential and possibly transmissibility advantage, the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron at the global level is high," the WHO said in its risk assessment on Monday, in a technical brief to its 194 member states.

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