These lockdowns are part China's "zero tolerance” measures to combat the pandemic, which were ratcheted up ahead of the Games. These include the requirement to test anyone purchasing medications to treat colds, flu, and other ailments.
Cheryl Zhang, a student at the University of California, stated that her health code app was installed by all Chinese on their smartphones. It began notifying her that she needed to be tested four days after she purchased medication.
Zhang said that she was panicking while taking a walk across the street to the Olympic Village. "But I felt less angry when I reached the hospital and saw all the medical staff trying to keep everything in order. "The problem was quickly solved."
These purchases can be tracked using a smart phone application that allows customers to scan their information when they enter pharmacies or buy medical supplies. China has strict regulations regarding the sale of medication and often a prescription from a doctor is required to purchase ordinary cold medicines or vitamins.
A notice was posted Tuesday at a Beijing pharmacy stating that anyone who purchased any of the four types of medication in the last two weeks must have a test within 72hrs. The notice stated that failure to comply with the order would result in a change to their health status, as indicated on their phones. This could "possibly affect your going out and daily lives."
Residents were kept in their homes at the Anzhen community, which is located about 2 km (1.2 miles) away from the main Olympic Village. One building was still under isolation, according to a notice.
There were no confirmed cases. However, all residents were required for COVID-19 testing. A second round was scheduled for Thursday. After the removal of quarantine, residents must monitor their health for at least two weeks.
Major outbreaks are suppressed by strict policies. China reported only 18 cases of local infected, five of which were in Beijing on Tuesday. Few protest the policies. This is a reflection of China's authoritarian Communist Party, which restricts freedom speech and tolerates no opposition.
An elderly resident at Anzhen said that he would like more information from authorities.
The man said, "I don’t worry too much, but I hope that the situation can become more transparent." He requested anonymity to avoid any trouble with the community management. "We are very close to the Olympic Village, and they can test anyone before the games. We understand that, but the community is now locked down and we have been told nothing."
Authorities in Beijing have tested millions of COVID-19 cases and imposed new measures after a monthlong lockdown in which 13 million people were confined to Xi'an, north-central China, ended Monday.
Six Beijing neighborhoods were locked down. Officials in Beijing said that they would carry out a second round mass testing of Fengtai's 2,000,000 residents. This district is where most of the capital's coronavirus cases from Jan. 15 are found. To stop people from spreading the virus, some trains and flights from Beijing were also suspended.
Despite the fact that there were only a few cases, these severe measures show the concern expressed by government officials during the build-up to the opening of the Olympics in Beijing on February 4.
Participants in the Games will be tested upon arrival as well as every day. They will also be isolated from the rest of the public.
More than 3000 people have arrived at the Games since Jan. 4. This includes more than 300 athletes, team officials and media. Up to now, 78 people have tested positive for HIV, including one athlete or official from a team.
China is taking strict anti-pandemic precautions, but it has not been affected by political controversies surrounding the Games relating to Beijing's human rights record.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported that Xi Jinping, the Chinese president and head the Communist Party, told Thomas Bach on Tuesday that Beijing was ready for hosting a "simple and safe" Winter Olympics.
"Everything is ready to host the Beijing Winter Olympics after more than six years' preparations," Xi was quoted telling Bach.
Jin Dong-yan is a virologist at Hong Kong University who said that the tiny clusters have so far not been able to impact the Winter Olympics.
He said that although people might not be complaining about strict anti-virus policies publicly, it is a different story when they are.
Jin stated that "Actually, under the table there's a lot more questioning and protesting as well as a lot more complaints" about lockdowns and other measures that are sometimes imposed without notice to residents.
He also doubted the utility of mass testing and said that the focus should be placed on the "spreaders," who are most likely to have the virus.
Jin stated that mass testing was a waste of resources and completely unnecessary.
Jin stated that legal experts have raised privacy concerns due to the increased use of health code apps. Jin said that while most public buildings and stores still require people to scan their codes for entry, this requirement is less strict in residential areas.
Chef Yang Haiping, a specialist in mutton hotpot and chef at Anzhen, stated that his restaurant was forced to close temporarily after its employees were put under lockdown.
Yang claimed that he provided food through police-guarded gates to coworkers who didn't have enough time to stock up.
Yang stated, "We will wait until the notice about next steps,"