Omicron hits Wuhan, centered on cosmetics staff training
Published: Feb 22, 2022 05:47 PM
Wuhan street on February 22 Photo: VCG

Wuhan street on February 22 Photo: VCG

Half a year after Wuhan experienced a round of COVID-19 outbreaks, the city is hit once again with the novel coronavirus. This time it's the Omicron variant. The total infections reached 14 in two days with all centered on a cosmetics staff training participated by about 66 people. 

Ten more positive COVID-19 cases were reported on Tuesday following the first four positive cases on Monday. 13 of them participated a company's staff training held from February 18 to 20, Wuhan authorities said at Tuesday's press conference.

The staff training, held in a hotel located at Wuhan's Wuchang District and a community in Jiangan District, gathered 66 people, and 24 of them have already left Wuhan, the Wuhan official said. 

Health experts predicted more positive tests are likely to be reported, and mass testing will be rolled out if cases across communities mount.

A notice released by Hubei provincial government said the staff training was held by Nu Skin Enterprises - a US skin-care marketing company. The three patients who were firstly discovered in this fresh round of the outbreak on Monday had all attended the training. 

Besides Wuhan, four cases in Beijing and one in Qingdao detected on Tuesday were also participants of the Nu Skin's staff training. Thus the total infections related to the training reached 19 as of the press time. 

People moving out of the city of Wuhan since February 15 mainly went to cities across Hubei Province. Outside Hubei, Central China's Henan and Hunan, South China's Guangdong and East China's Jiangxi provinces were also among their destinations, data on Baidu Migration Map showed. 

The emerging outbreak did not halt activity in the whole city, nor was mass testing rolled out, except that residents of affected regions were required to undergo nucleic acid testing and quarantine at home since Monday. 

Some schools stopped classes and replaced them with online classes, media reports said. 

A Wuhan-based doctor, who participated in the epidemic prevention work in the Wuhan outbreak in 2020, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the current anti-epidemic measures are conducted in a precise manner. 

Since the staff training was held in an enclosed environment and current cases were infected with the highly contagious Omicron, more infections are expected to be reported. 

Mass testing will be considered if and when Wuhan reports hundreds of cases and more cases beyond the training-related outbreak are detected. With the city's vast experience in handling the novel coronavirus, the doctor is confident that Wuhan could overcome the Omicron variant.

Travel routes of the positive case in recent days were scattered in six districts of the city as epidemiological investigation showed - Hongshan, Hanyang, Qiaokou, Jiangan, Wuchang and Donghu new development district. 

Cao, a local resident, told the Global Times that since Wuhan withstood the epidemic two years ago, the city could act swiftly and calmly to deal with the epidemic and locals seem not worried or affected at all. 

"I work just one block away from the epidemic region in Donghu, and I was not informed to receive a test at all. We work and live normally," Cao said. 

Some residents said since the last round of outbreaks in August last year, Wuhan has remained on high alert with strict anti-epidemic procedures. Many communities had loudspeakers on to urge people to report after returning from high-risk regions. 

Once the first four positive cases were found on Monday, the Wuhan anti-epidemic command center overnight activated an emergency coordination meeting, where the local authorities urged the city to launch an epidemiological investigation, nucleic acid testing and quarantine measures. 

Staff training and lectures are often held in companies that sell health products, insurance, cosmetics and medicines, which make these places easy to become epidemic centers if an infection happens due to large numbers of people gathering and closed spaces. 

For example, a super transmission occurred in a lecture about health products in Tonghua city, Northeast China's Jilin Province, in January 2021, when the lecturer, 44, infected more than 70 people through three classes.