CHINA / SOCIETY
Omicron variant BF.7 becomes main strain in Beijing's latest COVID-19 flare-up
Published: Nov 10, 2022 11:39 PM
Staff members check a sample for nucleic acid test at the laboratory of KingMed Diagnostics, a Chinese medical diagnostic testing company in Beijing, capital of China. Photo: Xinhua

Staff members check a sample for nucleic acid test at the laboratory of KingMed Diagnostics, a Chinese medical diagnostic testing company in Beijing, capital of China. Photo: Xinhua


Beijing's number of new infections caused by the highly transmissible Omicron variant BF.7 is rising, with surging COVID-19 community transmission and the risk of a hidden spread, local health authorities said on Thursday, adding that BF.7 has become the main strain in the latest COVID-19 flare-up.

The current round of cluster infections appeared in the capital city not only due to the strong infectiousness, fast transmission and short incubation period of BF.7, a subvariant of BA.5, but also because the infection involves logistics, construction sites, schools, restaurants, hotels and other densely populated industries and places.

Beijing reported 34 local confirmed cases and 61 asymptomatic infections on Wednesday. Among these infections, seven were discovered at the community level, according to local health authorities.

The flare-up in Beijing started on October 27. It was caused by infections from other places and has caused a number of related cluster infections in the city. The Beijing authorities on Thursday further strengthened epidemic prevention management in public places, requiring people entering these places to take temperature measurements and show their negative nucleic acid certificates as required.

Environmental disinfection and sanitation should be strictly carried out in public places to prevent the further spread of the virus. At the same time, major exhibitions including Auto China 2022, widely recognized as one of the most important automotive fairs in the world, have been temporarily suspended until further notice.  

The Beijing municipal government has also reminded people to stay at home and maintain safe social distancing and wear masks properly when entering public places.

Beijing and North China's Tianjin Municipality have started to provide a domestically developed aerosolized adenovirus type-5 vector-based COVID-19 vaccine (Ad5-nCoV) for booster shots starting from Thursday, after it was used in a couple of cities including Shanghai.

The aerosolized Ad5-nCoV vaccine was jointly developed by CanSinoBIO and researchers from the Institute of Military Medicine under the Academy of Military Sciences led by Chen Wei. It is considered to be the world's first aerosolized COVID-19 vaccine and it was approved by Chinese national authorities for emergency use as a booster in September.

The aerosolized Ad5-nCoV has the advantages of stable storage and transportation at temperatures of 2-8 C, which can facilitate large-scale vaccination of high-risk groups more efficiently and improve vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries, the company noted. 

The launch of the aerosolized vaccine in multiple cities comes as China keeps exploring new and better strategies of mass vaccination in the face of the rapidly mutating virus while upholding a dynamic-zero COVID-19 policy to protect the lives and safety of the Chinese people amid nationwide sporadic cases.

Global Times