On Tuesday, the authorities in northern China ordered hundreds of thousands more people to stay at home as they raced to contain a 21-month high number of Covid cases.
China, where the outbreak was first discovered two years ago, has implemented a “zero-Covid” policy of tight border controls, lengthy quarantines, and targeted lockdowns in preparation for the Winter Olympics in February.
On Tuesday, authorities reported 209 cases of the virus, the highest number in a single day since March last year, when Wuhan was ravaged by the pandemic.
In Xi’an, where 13 million people face home confinement for the sixth day in a row, authorities have imposed what they call the “strictest” possible curbs despite the surge being low in comparison with rampant cases in Europe and the United States.
Xi’an is being sealed off under the most extensive lockdown since Wuhan was sealed off in a similar manner.
Nearby cities have reported flare-ups, with Yan’an — about 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Xi’an — shutting down businesses and ordering hundreds of thousands to remain indoors.
According to CCTV, the city set up over 4,400 sampling locations and sent over 100,000 workers to conduct the latest round of testing. Footage showed masked residents queueing up to be tested in streets and sports grounds.
Many Xi’an residents have turned to social media to seek help acquiring food and other necessities after being banned from driving and prohibited from sending out one household member to buy groceries every three days.
“There’s no food, my housing compound won’t let me out, and I’m about to run out of instant noodles … please help!” “I’m about to be starved to death,” wrote one person on the Weibo site.
Authorities maintain that supplies have remained stable as Xi’an maintains strict controls on movement into and out of the city.
CCTV says students have also been forbidden to leave dormitories unless absolutely necessary.