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The southern Chinese city of Zhuhai suspended public bus routes on Saturday after announcing it had detected at least seven cases of the Omicron variant and warned residents not to leave the city, AFP reports.

The coastal city of Zhuhai, which borders the gaming center Macau, said late Friday that Omicron had been detected in a mildly ill and six asymptomatic patients, after launching mass tests due to a case in a neighboring town.

China is fighting a wave of coronavirus outbreaks, including several from the highly transmissible Omicron variant, as the country increases vigilance against the virus ahead of Winter Olympics in Beijing next month.

Millions of people across the country have been ordered to stay home in recent weeks, with dozens of domestic flights canceled and factories closed.

Zhuhai officials have urged residents to avoid leaving the city “unless necessary” with those showing negative Covid test results within the past 24 hours.

The city had launched mass tests for its population of 2.4 million people on Friday after a Covid case was discovered in the neighboring country Zhongshan Earlier this week.

Shops, including beauty salons, card rooms, gyms and cinemas, were ordered to close on Thursday, with officials announcing the suspension of public bus routes in parts of the city.

China has kept Covid cases relatively low throughout the pandemic with its zero-tolerance strategy of immediately ordering mass tests and severe lockdowns when infections are detected.

But the rapid spread Omicron has been testing that strategy in recent weeks, and is popping up in the port city Tianjin close to Beijing before spreading to the central city Anyang.

National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng told reporters on Saturday that the country faced a “double challenge” from both the Delta and Omicron variants.

He warned that regions that had not yet seen outbreaks “must not slacken” on their preventive measures and “strengthen risk auditing”.

The country reported 104 domestically transmitted Covid cases on Saturday.

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