Xi’an: China locks down city of 13 million people, biggest since Wuhan Covid breakout

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File: A resident undergoes a nucleic acid test for Covid at a residential area that is under restrictions following a recent coronavirus outbreak in Xi’an (Getty Images)
File: A resident undergoes a nucleic acid test for Covid at a residential area that is under restrictions following a recent coronavirus outbreak in Xi’an (Getty Images)

The major Chinese city of Xi’an, with a population of 13 million, has been put under lockdown after a surge in Covid-19 cases was reported.

This is said to be the country’s biggest move since Wuhan, where close to 11 million inhabitants faced one of the harshest lockdowns since the pandemic started.

China already has strict curbs to keep infections under control. Sweeping restrictions introduced on Wednesday, however, were enforced after the city reported an outbreak of cases.

Under the new restrictions, residents have been asked to not leave the city unless necessary and only with official permission.

Only one person per household is allowed to leave home every two days to buy essential goods. Apartment compounds and workplaces are required to issue passes for entries and exits beginning from Thursday.

Public places, including restaurants and theatres, have been prohibited while large scale gatherings have been banned. Schools will once again start taking online classes.

The new rules were introduced after Xi’an reported 52 new cases on Tuesday. Since 9 December, when the first case of the cluster was detected, a total 143 confirmed cases were reported from the city.

Officials said all the cases were of the Delta variant, with no Omicron cases found so far. The cluster is believed to have started from six infections detected in passengers who came from Pakistan on 4 December.

Mainland China has reported seven Omicron cases as of Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

While the cases reported from Xi’an are only a handful compared to other world cities suffering outbreaks, Chinese authorities have imposed blanket movement restrictions ahead of busy weeks around the New Year and the upcoming Winter Olympics.

China has already said that a “certain number” of cases are bound to rise as people come to the country from all over the world for the Olympics that will kick off on 4 February 2022.

However, the event will also be held under strict curbs. The country has so far managed to keep its Covid infections comparatively low with some of the strictest known restrictions in place around the world.

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