For the first time since the original coronavirus outbreak closed China’s borders, the country is preparing to allow foreigners to enter again in large numbers for the winter Olympics next February.
This had not seemed like it would pose much of a problem. People had become accustomed to life without many Covid restrictions, with authorities stamping out each outbreak of the virus as it came along.
But everything changed when the highly-contagious Delta variant made its way into China via an airport in the eastern city of Nanjing.
In July and August it quickly spread to dozens of cities and towns, threatening China’s status of having the virus controlled.
As they had before, authorities pursued a goal of full elimination.
The strategy is always the same. Phone app health clearance is implemented in order to enter public buildings, track and trace methods go into overdrive and, as infected people are identified, their housing estates placed into lockdown.
At the time of writing, this latest outbreak seems to have been reined in like those before it but officials remain on alert to guard against any new clusters threating the Games with several measures in place.
Entry and exit to the Olympic city can be controlled if needed. Transport links from high-risk areas can be suspended and travellers coming to the capital Beijing from medium risk locations could be required to have negative coronavirus tests.
With these tools, officials are hoping to have zero domestic Covid infections when the Winter Games begin.
This will have a major impact on the look and feel of the Olympics.