Xi’an city in northern China faces lockdown with up to 13 million people affected by spread of COVID

BEIJING (AP) – China has ordered the lockdown of 13 million people in neighborhoods and workplaces in northern Xi’an city following a peak in coronavirus cases, sparking panic buying just weeks before the country hosts the Winter Olympics.

State media reported that city officials have ordered all residents to stay in their homes unless they have a compelling reason to go out and have suspended all transport to and from the city except in cases individuals.

One person from each household will be allowed to go out every other day to buy basic necessities, according to the ordinance. It went into effect at midnight on Wednesday, without saying when it could be lifted.

It was not known whether the virus was the newer omicron variant or the much more common delta. China has only recorded seven cases of omicron – four in the southern manufacturing center of Guangzhou, two in the southern city of Changsha and one in the northern port of Tianjin.

Social media posts recorded panic purchases of groceries and household goods, with the government saying more supplies would be brought in. live.

Xi’an on Thursday reported another 63 locally transmitted cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the city’s total to at least 211 over the past week. Xi’an is the capital of Shaanxi Province, famous for its imperial relics, as well as an important industrial center.

China has also faced a large outbreak in several cities in eastern Zhejiang province, near Shanghai, although isolation measures have been more targeted there.

China has adopted strict pandemic control measures as part of its policy to zero new transmissions to zero, resulting in frequent lockdowns, universal masking and mass testing. While the policy has not been entirely successful while causing massive disruption to travel and trade, Beijing credits it with largely containing the spread of the virus.

These measures have been stepped up in recent days before the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics on February 4.

Xi’an’s restrictions are among the toughest since China in 2020 imposed a strict lockdown on more than 11 million people in and around the central city of Wuhan, after the coronavirus was first detected there times end of 2019.

China has reported 4,636 deaths out of a total of 100,644 COVID-19 cases.

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