Eleven Beijing Games personnel in hospital with COVID, none serious

BEIJING, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Eleven Beijing Olympics-related personnel have been hospitalised with COVID-19 in the Chinese capital since Jan. 23 out of a total of 232 positive cases, Brian McCloskey, chair of the Beijing 2022 medical expert panel, said on Wednesday.

Organisers recorded 32 cases in the past 24 hours, 15 of them new airport arrivals.

McCloskey said none of those hospitalised were in serious condition and the overall daily figure would start to drop once the number of participants arriving begins to decrease.

“Since Jan. 23 there have been 232 cases, 163 from the airport and 69 from the closed loop,” McCloskey said.

About 3,000 athletes, along with coaches, officials, federation delegates and media are expected for the Feb. 4-20 Games.

They will stay in a “closed loop” to prevent contact with the general public, moving between accommodation and Olympic venues on official transport.

They are also tested on a daily basis in an effort to identify any infections within the loop quickly.

Among the cases announced on Wednesday was an unidentified German team member who has been moved to isolation without any symptoms, the second case from Germany’s Olympic team in recent days.

“We expected that but overall, I have to say that the track record with many arriving and being tested negative and then remaining negative for one, two, three days is very encouraging as they have a huge chance to stay negative in the loop,” German team chief Dirk Schimmelpfennig told a news conference.

Team members wanting to return to training and competition will need to be without symptoms and provide two negative tests 24 hours apart before being released from quarantine.

In contrast to many countries seeking to live with COVID-19, China has adopted a zero-tolerance policy, which has involved strict border controls and cancelling nearly all international flights.

All participants are arriving on charter flights.

“At the moment we have seen no significant spread within the loop. We are not particularly worried,” McCloskey said. More than 540,000 tests have been conducted since Jan 23.

“They won’t go down immediately but when we get to a stable number of people, then we expect it to go down,” McCloskey said of positive cases.

“The reality is every country in the world has a higher level of COVID-19 than China does.”