A day after detecting Omicron in Henan province, China locked down a city of five million people, its second lockdown in as many months, symbolizing the nation’s commitment to eliminating Covid as two highly transmissible variants circulate.
On Monday, authorities in the city of Anyang ordered residents not to leave their homes and banned their use of vehicles after two people were reported to have the contagious omicron variant. According to the local health authorities, another 58 cases have been reported, despite the fact that they didn’t specify whether the infections were caused by omicron.
Henan and Tianjin’s Omicron outbreaks pose serious challenges for officials already dealing with a delta outbreak, one of China’s longest so far since the virus appeared more than two years ago. Each province shares a border with Hebei province, which is hosting competitions in winter sports during the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which start in less than a month.
In China, 110 new cases of locally transmitted Covid infections were reported on Tuesday. Henan province reported 87 of the new cases.
In Anyang, all companies except essential ones are halted, according to officials. Tickets sales to Beijing are also suspended until the virus risk in the city is fully eliminated.
The lockdown is the second in 20 days for a Chinese city, after residents of Xi’an – more than 650 kilometers to the west – were urged to stay indoors amid a delta outbreak late last month. In two other cities of Henan province, authorities have restricted dining options and public transportation as well.
Beijing’s port city of Tianjin imposed partial lockdowns on two towns in the Xiqing district, as an outbreak grew, according to the municipal government. According to a statement from the National Health Commission, ten locally transmitted cases, as well as 11 asymptomatic infections, were reported on Tuesday.