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Australians frustrated at China’s strict COVID-19 regulations


Gill was adamant she did not want to go into isolation where dozens of other athletes are now staying after testing positive. Beijing is coming under increasing pressure from national Olympic committees over the treatment of mostly asymptomatic or recovered COVID-19 cases in isolation.

There have been more than 350 cases connected to the Olympics since it began with hundreds still in isolation on the third official day of the Games. The International Olympic Committee said the restrictions were necessary to ensure a safe Games.

Polish speed skater Natalia Maliszewska said on Sunday that she had been shuffled between isolation rooms and her hotel after returning positive and then negative results over the course of a week.

“People got me out of my room at 3am,” she said. “This night was a horror. I slept in my clothes in my bed because I was afraid that at any moment someone would take me back to isolation. Then a message that unfortunately they were mistaken, that I am a threat, and should not have been released from isolation.”

“I cry until I have no more tears and make not only the people around me worry but myself too,” she said.

Finnish ice hockey player Marko Anttila has also been put into an isolation ward, leading the Finnish team to accuse the Beijing Organising Committee of making political decisions.

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“From a medical perspective we know that a person like this is no longer infectious, no danger to the other team,” said Finnish doctor Maarit Valtonen.

“These isolation decisions are not based on medicine or science, it’s more cultural and political decisions.”

Other athletes including Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsov have warned that they are not being fed properly, putting them at risk of losing their competition if they do make it out of isolation in time.

Lipshut said the Australian team had concerns about the conditions.

“Listening to the experiences of the other National Olympic Committees with concerns about their efforts in isolation it actually sounds extremely difficult.”

The conditions inside the Olympic bubble are strict but not as restrictive as elsewhere in China, which is maintaining a COVID-zero policy amid ongoing doubts about the efficacy of its non-mRNA vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm against the Delta and Omicron variants.

The city of Baise – home to more than 3.5 million people – was put into lockdown on Sunday after 98 cases were recorded. The lockdown orders, which institute compulsory mass testing of every resident, closes schools, public transport and roads in and out of the city is at least the sixth in China this year, with similar measures in place in Tianjin and Xian throughout January.

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