The city of Xi’an in central China recorded 52 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday. Authorities on Wednesday imposed strict lockdown measures on its roughly 13 million residents.
The sweeping restrictions, which prevent people from leaving their homes, come as the country braces for the Lunar New Year travel rush, quickly followed by the 2022 Winter Olympics, which are due to start in the capital Beijing on. February 4.
Xi’an, an ancient city known internationally as the home of 2,000-year-old terracotta warrior sculptures, detected its first case linked to the latest outbreak at a quarantine hotel on December 9. The virus would then have spread in the community via an infected hotel employee.
Officials believe the cluster is linked to an inbound flight from Pakistan on December 4, where at least six passengers were found carrying the Delta variant. So far, no case of the Omicron variant has been reported in Xi’an.
Authorities acted quickly, suspending schools and carrying out mass tests for the entire city. Cases continued to climb, however. As of December 9, the city has registered a total of 206 cases. Authorities on Wednesday recorded 63 new locally transmitted cases, Xi’an’s highest daily figure this month.
Containment rules: As of noon as of Wednesday, more than 30,000 people believed to have been in contact with a confirmed case have been placed in quarantine, according to the official China Daily newspaper. On the same day, the city imposed strict containment until further notice for all residents.
Xi’an is now designated as a “controlled area,” the second highest category of containment in China, meaning residents are prohibited from leaving their homes except in urgent cases like medical emergencies. Each household is only allowed to send one designated person out of the house to do grocery shopping every two days.