IOC Eases COVID Curbs for Beijing Games; China Warns on Pollution

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Monday a slight easing of the strict COVID-19 requirements for participants in next month’s Beijing Winter Olympics, although authorities also warned about seasonal air pollution. 

The IOC said the changes include easing the threshold for being designated positive for COVID-19 from PCR tests and reducing the close contact’s 14-day quarantine period to seven days.

The changes “have been developed in order to further adapt to the reality of the current environment and support the Games participants”, the IOC added.

The Games would begin February 4 and end February 20 inside a “closed-loop” bubble separating all personnel from the public amid the zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy in China that has led it to all restrictions but shut its border to international arrivals.

According to the Beijing 2022 data released on Sunday and Monday, 177 COVID-19 cases were found among the 3,115 international arrivals from January 4 to January 23.

Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment warned that winter weather was “very unfavorable” for efforts to keep the air clean.

The environment ministry data showed that concentrations of hazardous airborne particles known as PM2.5, a system for measuring smog, stood at 205 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing on Monday morning.

The World Health Organization recommends levels of no more than five micrograms.

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