A Chinese city with a population of 13 million people has been quarantined again to avoid an “explosion” of the coronavirus. This time it is not about Shanghai, which recently came out of a 2-month lockdown, but about the city of Xi’an. Official Zhang Xuedong announced at a press conference last Tuesday, the Xinhua news agency reported.
It was clarified that several cases of COVID-19 were registered in the Chinese city, so companies, schools, and restaurants in the metropolis were closed for at least one week. Accordingly, tourism also became unavailable for the same period. The new decision is part of Beijing’s “zero tolerance for coronavirus” policy.
China is the latest major economy to follow a zero-contagion strategy for COVID, imposing sudden lockdowns and travel restrictions in an attempt to stamp out new infections. Xi’an, a historic city of 13 million people that underwent a month-long lockdown late last year, has reported 18 cases since last Saturday in a cluster caused by the fast-spreading omicron strain, according to official reports. “We have to fight both time and the virus … to guard against all possible risks and hidden dangers and decisively avoid an explosion in community spread,” the official said.
Pubs, internet cafes, and karaoke bars, popular with tourists and locals, closed their doors from midnight on Wednesday, the city government said in a statement. Restaurants were prohibited from serving customers indoors but made it possible to process takeout orders.
Xi’an, the birthplace of the famous Terracotta Warriors, previously faced one of China’s longest self-isolation regimes, with the tourist city in central China locked down for a month from December to January after thousands of cases of the disease were detected. However, residents criticized the city authorities for not preparing for the quarantine: there were problems with the supply of food and cases when patients were denied access to hospitals.
Some residents of the tourist town have expressed alarm over social media blocks that have coincided with the new lockdown. “It’s as if they’re used to quarantine. What do they even do? – wrote an outraged Chinese on Weibo, a platform similar to Twitter.
China reported 335 new domestic cases on Tuesday, most of them asymptomatic, according to the National Health Commission (NHC). China’s most recent major outbreak occurred in the central province of Anhui, where as of Tuesday, 1.7 million people in two counties had been ordered to stay at home and avoid public places.
About 90 percent of the nearly 300 cases of infection reported in the province on Monday were asymptomatic, according to the NHC. So far, more than 1,000 cases of the disease have been identified during the outbreak.
Although another major city, Shanghai, has come out of lockdown, authorities have ordered the public to be tested for COVID in most areas after “consecutive registration of many local positive cases” since Sunday. Many of the 25 million people living in the commercial center will have to undergo two tests for Covid between Tuesday and Thursday, authorities said.