Omicron coronavirus variant has spread to a Chinese city near Macau in the south.

omicron

After reporting at least seven cases of the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant and warning residents not to leave the city, the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai suspended public bus routes on Saturday.

After launching mass testing in response to a case in a neighboring city, the coastal city of Zhuhai, which borders the gambling hub Macau, said late Friday that Omicron had been detected in one mildly ill and six asymptomatic patients.

The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown.

China is dealing with a slew of coronavirus outbreaks, including several of the Omicron variant, as the country ramps up its anti-virus efforts ahead of the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month.

Read: Common cold may protect against COVID-19, according to a new study

Thousands of domestic flights have been canceled, and factories have been shut down, forcing millions of people to stay at home in recent weeks.

The city had launched mass testing for its population of 2.4 million people on Friday after a Covid case was detected in neighboring Zhongshan earlier in the week.

With its zero-tolerance policy of ordering mass testing and strict lockdowns as soon as infections are detected, China has kept Covid-19 cases to a bare minimum throughout the pandemic.

However, the fast-spreading Omicron variant has put that strategy to the test in recent weeks, first appearing in Tianjin, a port city near Beijing, before spreading to Anyang, the capital.

On Saturday, the country reported 104 domestically transmitted Covid-19 cases.

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