China has reported a jump in Covid cases among athletes and team officials at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
The number of daily Covid infections rose to 19 on Friday from two a day earlier, and Games organisers said more cases could be expected in the coming days.
Thirty-six Games-related personnel, including the athletes and officials, have been found to be infected, 29 when they arrived at the airport in Beijing and seven already in the “closed loop” bubble that separates event personnel from the public, the organising committee said in a statement on Saturday.
“We are now just going through the peak period of people arriving in China and therefore we expect to see the highest numbers at this stage,” the Games’ medical chief, Brian McCloskey, told a news conference.
Organisers are confident in their Covid-19 prevention system and infections are unlikely to leak out to the public, he said.
Cases among athletes and team officials exceeded those for “other stakeholders”, including media, sponsors and staff, for the first time since China started releasing daily numbers of Olympics-related coronavirus cases on 23 January, according to a Reuters tally of previous statements.
“It’s annoying that every morning you need to get up a little earlier specially to get a PCR test. I think that in a few days, it will be like brushing your teeth,” the Russian ice hockey player Anton Slepyshev told the RIA news agency.
“Everyone is concerned that the test result will suddenly turn out to be positive, but the reality is such that we are living with Covid. We accept all the risks and fears.”
The Games are to run from Friday to 20 February, its bubble sealed off from the rest of China, where the government’s zero-tolerance Covid-19 policy has all but shut the country’s border to international arrivals.
Source: The Guardian