Beijing is all set to host the 2022 Olympic Games with participants arriving from all over the world. Amidst the surging Covid-19 cases due to the highly transmissible variant Omicron, keeping the participants and the local population safe is a daunting task for the organizers.
Beijing Gears Up To Tackle Coronavirus At Olympics
The Olympics organizing team is taking many safety measures to prevent the entry of viruses through the participants and their teams, to begin with.
All athletes, journalists, and assisting members are required to undergo two rounds of RT-PCR test to detect virus, with the report citing negative results in each, before they can start heading to Beijing to participate in the games.
For further assurance, each one of them would be tested again at the airport upon arrival before they are taken to their game sites. Complete vaccination is mandatory for everyone who goes to China for the Olympics 2022. If anyone fails to provide proof of vaccination, they would be required to quarantine for 3 weeks, resulting in non-participation in the games.
Last year at Tokyo Olympics 2021, the authorities attempted to separate the general crowd from the Olympics crowd right from entry to the airports. However, that only led to more chaos, and the virus-free “bubbles” were already burst even before they were entirely created.
During the games, the authorities would test each person every day with throat swabs to rule out any possible viral contraction amongst the participants.
Despite maintaining absolute sanitary conditions and enforcing preventive measures, in the unlikely event of someone testing positive, the Olympics’ organizing team has arrangements for their treatment in hospitals if there are symptoms and isolation if there are no symptoms.
In any case, a positive test would mean that the athletes would no longer be able to participate in their respective games until they receive clearance for being non-contagious for consecutive days.
Fortunately, we know more about the virus and its transmission patterns than earlier this time. Hence, it is easier to be flexible in terms of isolation duration required in case of a positive test.
There are fixed rules for the same being enforced. It would be decided on the spot by the Olympics management authorities. The person’s medical history, vaccination status, and prior exposure to Covid-19 would be taken into consideration before deciding their isolation duration.
The primary reason for concern this time is the Omicron variant of Covid-19 which is highly contagious, despite causing low to mild levels of symptoms. The presence of virus in the body is detected through Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests which are powerful enough to detect even tiny amounts of virus.
However, this also means that even though the report is positive, the viral load in the body could be negligible enough for it to be contagious. In such cases, deciding upon the isolation duration could be a tricky value, especially for the athletes, because it directly affects their participation in the games.
One way to know how Covid-19 positive tested person is to look at the CT value in the RT-PCR report. As a golden standard, a CT value higher than 24 indicates that the contagiousness of the virus is low.
The higher the CT value, the less likely is the person to cause transmission of the person to another healthy non-infected person through common ways of viral transmission like breathing, speaking, sneezing, and close-body contact like handshakes.
Although Covid-19 is not expected to hamper the smooth running of the Olympics due to proper protocols in place and vaccinations, it would be advisable for everyone to stay safe and indoors as much as possible.