China’s Xian to end Covid-19 lockdown if it reaches ‘zero social transmission’

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The full lockdown in the Chinese city of Xian, which has entered a 13th day, will be lifted only when “zero social transmission” of Covid-19 infections is achieved, local authorities said on Tuesday.

Zero social transmission would mean that new confirmed cases were either isolated “close contacts” or “close contacts of close contacts” of previously recorded cases, with no other transmission in the community, Chen Zhijun, deputy director of the Xian Disease Prevention and Control Centre, told news portal

“After the goal of ‘zero social transmission’ is achieved, we expect to gradually lift the restrictions on the whole city of Xian,” Chen was quoted as saying.

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Across China, 108 new symptomatic local infections were reported on Tuesday, with 95 of them – five more than the day before – in Xian, Shaanxi province. The northwestern city has reported 1,758 local symptomatic cases since the outbreak emerged on December 9, according to the National Health Commission (NHC).

The country also had 21 new asymptomatic local cases and 100 new imported cases (67 of them symptomatic), the NHC said.

The whole of Xian has been locked down since December 23, with strict restrictions on people leaving their residential compound or the city. On Tuesday, the city’s 13 million residents were ordered to undergo their eighth round of mass testing since December 21.

Xian’s officials have been criticised for their handling of the lockdown, with residents complaining about food shortages and the local Covid-19 tracking app crashing at least twice since the outbreak started. Many were supportive of the sacking of two senior officials on Sunday to “strengthen epidemic prevention and control”.

The Communist Party’s disciplinary commission had previously said 26 city officials would be punished over their response to the outbreak, including mismanaging a quarantine hotel.

Also in full lockdown is Yuzhou, in Henan province, which borders Shaanxi. The city of more than a million residents imposed the restrictions on Monday after reporting three local symptomatic cases in two days.

The authorities said people would not be allowed to leave the city, and could enter only with special permission, with others planning to return to Yuzhou advised to delay their trips.

There were also eight local symptomatic infections reported in Ningbo, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, after it reported nine the previous day.

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