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China Imposes COVID Lockdown on 13 Million People

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Xian, a city in eastern China, tightened travel controls and imposed a lockdown on Wednesday amid a growing COVID-19 outbreak. Over 13 million people were ordered to stay at home.

In preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China is on high alert as it battles outbreaks in several cities.

In Xi’an on Wednesday, a total of 52 new cases of Coronavirus were reported, bringing the total number of Coronavirus cases to 143 since December 9.

In a statement published on Xian city’s official Weibo account on Thursday, the city government said household members may only go outside twice a week to buy necessities. Everyone else must remain indoors except for emergencies.

According to the government, residents “should not leave the city except for special circumstances,” and anyone applying to leave the city will have to provide proof of such circumstances.

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This comes just a day after the city in northern China began issuing test orders to its 13 million residents. According to government notices, long-distance bus stations were closed, and disease control checkpoints were set up on highways leaving Xi’an.

Flight tracker VariFlight reports that more than 85% of flights are grounded at the city’s main airport. There is a reduction in passenger capacity on public transport in the city and schools have closed.

Apart from supermarkets, convenience stores, and medical facilities, all “non-essential” businesses and public facilities have been ordered to close, while the local government has urged employers to let employees work from home, CCTV reported.

Meetings with large attendance, including those in outdoor parks, have been suspended, and the museum housing the world-famous Terracotta Army [the 2,000-year-old mausoleum of China’s first emperor] has been closed until further notice.

China’s Zero COVID policy

With a zero-Covid strategy that involves tight border restrictions, targeted lockdowns, and lengthy quarantines, China [where the Coronavirus originated from] has slowed new cases since the middle of last year.

The implications of even one single case can quickly lead to the imposition of restrictions.

After a Coronavirus infection was detected in China’s Dongxing on Tuesday, its 200,000 residents were ordered to isolate at home by authorities. Dongxing is situated on the southwestern corner of the Chinese coast on the border with Vietnam.

In preparation for the arrival of thousands of international athletes for the Olympics less than a month away, China has tightened its already stringent COVID policies. Beijing demands visitors submit negative Covid tests and restricts flights from other cities.

Since the beginning of winter, Xi’an has also been plagued by potentially deadly haemorrhagic fever, in addition to COVID-19.

Despite the rodent-borne disease spreading across northern China, local authorities urged calm, saying the disease is easily preventable through vaccination.

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