Monday, January 17, 2022

China blames Canada for Beijing's first Omicron case

The first ever case of the Omicron variant to be discovered in Beijing (other Chinese cities have also seen cases) is a big deal for China. Alone among major countries, it is still chasing the elusive target of zero COVID cases, particularly with the Winter Olympics just around the corner. In a typical example of Chinese overkill, the whole office block where the infected individual works was immediately locked down, and everyone was essentially locked in with zero notice (pillows and bedding were seen being delivered to the office tower).

The 26-year old women in question has apparently not travelled outside of Beijing recently, nor had she had any contact with anyone else who has tested positive. So, China had to come up with an explanation, preferably one that implicated dastardly foreign powers.

Imagine our surprise, though, when the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decided to finger a piece of mail from Canada as the culprit. The Beijing woman apparently received a letter from Canada (via Hong Kong and the USA) about a week before her positive test. So, there you have it - obvious isn't it?

Predictably, pretty much every Canadian doctor, health organization and politician has pointed out in no uncertain terms that this is a ridiculous claim. Which, of course, it is. Calling the claim "implausible" and "ludicrous", and warning that it "doesn't sound credible" and "doesn't add up", Canadian health specialists and epidemiologists point out that has been many months since we have unduly worried about transmission of the virus on contaminated surfaces (fomites) - it is definitively an airborne disease, spread through relatively short-lived aerosol particles - and the chances of such particles surviving that length of time on piece of paper are exceedingly slim.

So, good try, China, but really not very convincing. Maybe the contamination actually did occur in China after all. Maybe your system is not perfect. Maybe it's not all part of a despicable foreign conspiracy.

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