Health

Xian battles COVID-19 in worst outbreak to hit a Chinese city this year

Xian reported
155 new local cases for Dec 29, official data showed. That takes its number of
local infections to more than 1,100 since the flare-up began on Dec 9 and
compelled authorities to put the city of 13 million under lockdown.

Despite the
low case count compared with clusters in many cities around the world, Xian
officials have imposed tough curbs on travel within and out of the city since
Dec 23, as Beijing demands each outbreak be contained quickly.

“Xian
has reached a live-or-die stage in its fight against the virus,” Zhang Fenghu,
a city government official, told a news conference on Wednesday.

Samsung
Electronics and Micron Technology , two of the world’s largest memory-chip
makers, have warned that the lockdown could affect their chip manufacturing
bases in the area.

Xian is also
a major tourism destination, drawing visitors to its collection of terracotta
warriors buried with China’s first emperor more than 2,000 years ago.

Authorities
have embarked on multiple rounds of citywide testing to trace transmissions. A
sixth round began on Thursday, a day after a fifth round.

Many
residents have been barred from leaving their housing compounds unless going
out to take COVID-19 tests or attend to essential matters approved by
authorities.

The Xian
police have dispatched personnel to each residential compound to make sure
COVID curbs are properly implemented, a police official told a news briefing on
Thursday.

The
restrictions have curtailed access to daily necessities, with many people
unable to go out to shop, leaving them dependent on deliveries.

But the
curbs have caused a staffing crunch at companies involved in ensuring the
delivery of supplies and the government was working on resolving the issue, a
Xian government official said on Wednesday.

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WUHAN
ANNIVERSARY

A Xian
resident surnamed He told Reuters she tried to order groceries on the online
app of Alibaba-backed supermarket chain Freshippo but could not secure many
items including potatoes and cucumber.

The app
posted a message under many items saying: “Delivery staffers are not
available”, according to a screenshot He provided.

Several city
districts have arranged for the delivery of free groceries to some residential
compounds, state media said.

The total
supply of necessities in Xian was sufficient, a spokesperson at the commerce
ministry told reporters.

The Xian
lockdown, now in its eighth day, coincides with the second anniversary of early
signs of the coronavirus outbreak in the central city of Wuhan.

Wuhan health
authorities said in a notice issued on Dec 30, 2019, that some pneumonia
patients were stricken by an illness of an “an unknown cause,”
according to state media.

Also on
Thursday, thousands of people left messages on the social media account of the
late COVID-19 whistleblower Li Wenliang on the anniversary of the day – also
Dec 30, 2019 – that he learned of the possibility of a pneumonia-causing virus
in Wuhan.

As of
Wednesday, mainland China had reported 101,890 confirmed coronavirus cases,
including both local and imported ones, with a death toll of 4,636.

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