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China locks up millions amid Covid outbreak

The rise in Covid-19 infections in the Chinese city of Xian has resulted in the lockdown of its 13 million residents, with stretches of highway strangely bare and many people lining up in the cold to get swabbed. nose at the test sites.

The daily number of locally transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms in the northwestern city, famous for its terracotta warriors buried with China’s first emperor, has increased for six consecutive days since December 17.

That brings the number of local cases to more than 200 in the period from December 9 to 22, lower than many outbreaks outside China. No Omicron infection has yet been found in Xian, capital of northwestern Shaanxi province.

But in line with Beijing’s stance that no outbreaks can spread, Xian has made it difficult for residents to leave.

Those who want to leave must test negative before departure and obtain permission from employers or authorities at community level.

The city has suspended long-distance bus services and banned travel outside the city by taxis and cars rented from carpool platforms, stationing police at highway exits to deter authorities from judging trips unnecessary.

From Thursday, each household will only be able to send one person to shop every two days, while others will only be able to leave if they have essential jobs.

Video footage broadcast live by traffic police on social media showed that some sections of the highway in Xian were almost deserted.

DISTURBANCES

The city has launched several rounds of mass tests.

A student at a city-based university said she lined up outside for about an hour while it was snowing, in order to donate a sample for a Covid-19 test.

“The indoor gymnasium is not big enough and the demand for testing is huge,” said the student, who gave only her last name, Zhu. “Temporary sites have been set up in an outdoor sports field.

LONGi Green Technology Co, the world’s largest monocrystalline silicon solar power maker, said production at its Xian factories had not been affected.

The factories have met the disinfection and virus prevention requirements set by authorities in Xian, with workers now in “closed management,” LONGi told investors on an online platform backed by the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

XiAn Catering said the city’s dining ban would affect its financial performance, while XiAn Tourism warned of a “relatively large” impact on short-term operations.

All domestic flights with Xian scheduled for Thursday have been canceled, according to data from flight data services company Variflight, although outbound flights for Friday are still available, according to online travel booking apps.

In southern Shaanxi, Sichuan Province and Chongqing City have demanded that recent visitors to Xian be quarantined for up to 14 days before they can travel freely.

Mainland China confirmed 71 local symptomatic cases, including 63 in Xian, on Wednesday, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

Mainland China had 100,644 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, both local and among international travelers. The nationwide death toll remained unchanged at 4,636.


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