After 52 Covid-19 cases, Chinese city imposes lockdown on 13 million residents

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On Tuesday (21), the city of Xi’an, in central China, registered 52 new cases of Covid-19. On Wednesday (22), authorities imposed strict blocking measures on 13 million residents.

The sweeping restrictions, which prevent people from leaving their homes, come as the country prepares for the Lunar New Year race, followed by the 2022 Winter Olympics, due to kick off in the capital Beijing on February 4th.

Xi’an, an ancient city known internationally as the home of 2,000-year-old terracotta warrior sculptures, detected its first case connected to the most recent outbreak in a quarantine hotel on December 9. The virus is believed to have spread to the community through an infected hotel worker.
Authorities believe the infected group is linked to an outbound flight from Pakistan on Dec. 4, where at least six passengers were found with the Delta variant. So far, there have been no reported cases of the Ômicron variant in Xi’an.

Authorities acted quickly, suspending student classes and holding mass tests across the city. Cases continued to rise, however. As of December 9, the city has registered a total of 206 cases. On Wednesday, authorities recorded 63 new locally transmitted cases, the highest daily number in Xi’an this month.

By noon on Wednesday, more than 30,000 people who had come into contact with a confirmed case were quarantined by the government, according to the state-run China Daily. That same day, the city imposed a strict blockade until further notice to all residents.

Xi’an is now designated a “controlled area,” China’s second-largest blockade category – meaning residents are prohibited from leaving their homes except in urgent cases such as medical emergencies. Each family can only send one designated person out of the house to buy groceries every other day.
After the new restrictions were announced, families rushed to supermarkets to stock up on supplies before the blockade took effect at midnight, according to the state-run tabloid Global Times.

Schools, public facilities and transportation systems are also closed, except for essential service providers like hospitals and supermarkets, according to the local government announcement.

Xi’an is at a level of the highest category of “sealed area” blockade, in which residents are completely prohibited from leaving their homes and groceries are delivered to their door.

This is only the fourth time that a major Chinese city has been placed under the “controlled area” blockade. While previous outbreaks have seen similar restrictions, they generally only apply to specific areas where infections are most prevalent – ​​not an entire city.

The emergence of yet another outbreak has raised questions about the long-term viability of China’s ambitious “Covid zero” policy, which aims to eliminate the virus completely within the country’s borders.

Despite administering more than 2.7 billion doses of its vaccines, authorities have battled a series of fast-spreading outbreaks.
The outbreak in Xi’an follows one caused by Delta in the summer; plus a September outbreak in Fujian province; and one in October that spread to more than half of the country; then several clusters in Inner Mongolia in November, which have spread to Zhejiang province in recent weeks.

Just last week, in addition to Xi’an, cases were also registered in Henan Province, Zhejiang Province, Guangdong Province, Guangxi Autonomous Region and in the cities of Beijing and Tianjin.

This content was originally created in English.

original version

Reference: CNN Brasil

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