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Mainland China experiences its first Omicron Covid case

Medical workers take swabs from a citizen for COVID-19 nucleic acid test in the Zhenhai District in Ningbo, China's Zhejiang Province, on December 7, 2021.

Hu Xuejun | Visual China Group | Getty Images

BEIJING – Mainland China reported its first case of the omicron variant of Covid on Monday in the city of Tianjin, about a two-hour drive from the capital Beijing.

The Omicron case was found in an overseas traveler who showed no symptoms but tested positive on Thursday, according to the Tianjin local health commission. The patient is in isolated treatment in a hospital, said the commission.

On Monday, the UK reported the world's first publicly confirmed death from the Omicron variant. The newly identified variant – first reported in South Africa in late November – is highly transmissible and heavily mutated, and has raised concerns about the effectiveness of existing coronavirus vaccines.

Covid-19 first appeared in mainland China in late 2019. The country controlled the outbreak within months, but the virus had now become a global pandemic.

Mainland China has reported only a few cases of Covid-19 cases in the past 18 months as Beijing has a tough "zero tolerance" policy that can include sudden neighborhood closures or travel restrictions. The recent recurrence of Covid cases is concentrated in Inner Mongolia and the southeastern part of the country.

The mainland health commission reported a total of 51 locally confirmed cases and 25 attributed to overseas travelers for Monday, with no new deaths.

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