Following a rise in coronavirus infections, China is redoubling its attempts to contain fresh virus outbreaks, imposing a lockdown on the 13 million people of the northern metropolis of Xi’an.
The announcement comes only weeks before China holds the Winter Olympics in Beijing, around 1,000 kilometers (6210 miles) to the west.
There was no indication on whether the virus was the omicron strain, which is gaining popularity, or the far more prevalent delta variant. Only seven omicron instances have been reported in China, with four in Guangzhou’s southern manufacturing region, two in Changsha’s southern city, and one in Tianjin’s northern port.
A large epidemic has also been reported in numerous cities in China’s eastern province of Zhejiang, near Shanghai, however isolation measures have been more carefully targeted there.
Authorities have implemented stringent pandemic control measures in order to reduce new transmissions to zero, which has resulted in regular lockdowns, ubiquitous masking, and mass testing. While the program has not been totally successful, causing major delays in travel and trade, Beijing believes it has helped to keep the virus from spreading further.
The Xi’an restrictions are among the most severe since China placed a stringent lockdown on more than 11 million people in and around Wuhan, China’s major metropolis, in 2020, after the coronavirus was first discovered there in late 2019.
Xi’an reported another 63 locally transmitted cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of locally transmitted cases in the city to at least 211 in the last week. Xi’an is the capital of Shaanxi province and a significant industrial hub known for its imperial monuments.
“No new guests are being accepted, and no current guests are being permitted to leave the hotel,” said a receptionist at the Hanting Hotel in Xi’an, who only supplied her surname, Li.
“Every two days, we all have to take a test, including the guests.” Li remarked. “Our business will be impacted, and we have no clue how long it will endure.”
The proprietor of a neighborhood bookstore stated he had shuttered 10 days prior “thinking the pandemic scenario would escalate.”
“I’m currently sitting at home watching TV,” the owner, who only provided his surname Xiao, added.
Outside his compound, he explained, he needed authorization from the local neighborhood council. “I believe the situation will improve over time, and I am not concerned since we have the support of the government,” Xiao remarked.
According to a government directive, one individual from each family would be permitted out every two days to acquire household needs. It went into force at 12 a.m. on Wednesday, with no indication of when it will be removed.
A total of 100,644 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in China, with 4,636 fatalities reported.