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China reports 34 new COVID-19 cases among Olympics-related personnel

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Thirty-four new COVID-19 infections were detected among Olympics-related personnel, the Beijing 2022 Winter Games organising committee said on Sunday, including Poland’s short track medal hopeful Natalia Maliszewska.

Of those, 13 were athletes or team officials who tested positive after arriving at the airport on Saturday.

Of the total infections, 23 were among new airport arrivals, while 11 were people already in the “closed loop” bubble that separates event personnel from the public in an effort to curb the spread of infections.

The loop allows Games participants to move freely between their accommodations and Olympic venues on official transport, but they are not allowed to move freely in the city. All Games stakeholders, including media and staff, are also tested daily.

Maliszewska is the eighth Polish athlete to have tested positive and has gone into isolation, the Polish Olympic Committee said on Sunday. She joins infected fellow speedskaters Natalia Czerwonka, Magdalena Czyszczon and Marek Kania in isolation.

With the 500m heats set to start on Saturday, Maliszewska is in a race against time to compete. Athletes who test positive and show no symptoms are to be discharged from isolation only if they provide two consecutive negative tests 24 hours apart.

Australia announced a positive COVID-19 test on Sunday among its team members but did not say whether it was an athlete or coaching staff.

Beijing Games organisers have warned of more cases in coming days as the Chinese capital enforces stringent measures, restricting movement and contact of any Games participant with the local population.

Unlike many countries seeking to live with COVID-19, China has isolated itself with a zero-tolerance policy, cancelling nearly all international flights. Olympic athletes and others must fly directly into the city on charter flights.

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