January 18, 2022

China confines city of 13 million people after rebound in cases

Residents of the city of Xi’an, in the north of the country, must now “stay at home unless there is a compelling reason.”

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The Chinese authorities imposed, Wednesday, December 22, a lockdown in Xi’an, in the north of the country, a city of 13 million inhabitants, due to a rebound in Covid-19 cases, to more than one month of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The city, known for its army buried in terracotta, had already severely restricted travel on Wednesday to contain an epidemic focus. Residents must now “stay at home unless there is a compelling reason”, explained in a statement the local authorities. However, one person per household is allowed to shop. “every two days”.

China has been pursuing a “zero Covid” strategy since last year, which consists of doing everything to limit the occurrence of new cases as much as possible, generally limited to only a few dozen per day. The country reported 52 new patients in Xi’an on Wednesday, bringing the number of patients in the city to 143 since December 9. Xi’an, which on Tuesday began screening its entire population, previously urged residents to avoid going out and congregating in large groups. About 90 residential neighborhoods are also under confinement but the number of people concerned is not known.

China has practically eradicated the epidemic on its soil since the spring of 2020 thanks to long mandatory quarantines on arrival, targeted containments, massive screenings, mobile travel tracking applications and the drastic limitation of international flights. However, the country continues to regularly face small sporadic outbreaks, usually contained within a few weeks. While the number of cases in China is extremely low compared to other countries, authorities do not want to leave anything to chance before the Winter Olympics (February 4-20).