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Mainland China reports its first omicron Covid case

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Medical worker collects swab from a citizen for the COVID-19 nucleic acid test at Zhenhai District on December 7, 2021 in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province of China.

Hu Xuejun | Visual China Group | Getty Images

BEIJING — Mainland China reported its first case of the omicron Covid variant on Monday in the city of Tianjin, about two hours’ drive from the capital of Beijing.

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

On Monday, the United Kingdom reported the first publicly confirmed death globally 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 efficacy of existing coronavirus vaccines.

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

Mainland China has reported only pockets of Covid-19 cases in the last 18 months, as Beijing pursues a tough “zero-tolerance” policy that can mean sudden neighborhood lockdowns or travel restrictions. The latest reemergence of Covid cases has been concentrated in Inner Mongolia and the southeastern part of the country.

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

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