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Mass testing begins as Beijing prepares to host Winter Olympics

The Chinese capital has reported 14 new Covid-19 cases.

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The Olympic rings sit on the top of the Beijing Olympic Tower at the 2022 Winter Olympics (Jae C Hong/AP)

The Olympic rings sit on the top of the Beijing Olympic Tower at the 2022 Winter Olympics (Jae C Hong/AP)

The Olympic rings sit on the top of the Beijing Olympic Tower at the 2022 Winter Olympics (Jae C Hong/AP)

The Chinese capital reported 14 new Covid-19 cases as it began a third round of mass testing of millions of people in the run-up to the Winter Olympics.

The mass testing announcement, made by Beijing’s Fengtai district on its social media account, prompted complaints from some residents who were asked to line up yet again outside as daytime temperatures hovered around freezing.

Beijing has stepped up China’s already strict pandemic response measures as it tries to quash any outbreaks ahead of the Olympics, which open in nine days.

The city announced this week that anyone who buys fever, headache or two other types of medicine will be subject to a Covid-19 test within 72 hours.

All two million residents in Fengtai district, where most of the cases in Beijing have been found, are being tested for the third time since last weekend.

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Residents wearing face masks to help protect from coronavirus gather in line as they wait for a throat swab at a Covid-19 test site outside a residential housing block in Fengtai District in Beijing (Andy Wong/PA)

Residents wearing face masks to help protect from coronavirus gather in line as they wait for a throat swab at a Covid-19 test site outside a residential housing block in Fengtai District in Beijing (Andy Wong/PA)

Residents wearing face masks to help protect from coronavirus gather in line as they wait for a throat swab at a Covid-19 test site outside a residential housing block in Fengtai District in Beijing (Andy Wong/PA)

Testing was also being carried out for residential communities and neighbourhoods elsewhere in Beijing.

About 90 people commented online on the mass testing announcement, mostly making complaints.

Some said the frequent testing wastes resources, disrupts work and daily life, and burdens health care workers and community officials.

China reported 24 new local cases in the latest 24-hour period, including the 14 in Beijing.

That was up from five cases in Beijing and 18 nationwide the previous day.

The government’s zero-Covid approach attempts to snuff out any outbreak, no matter how small, with lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions.

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