Xi’an, the ancient city in Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, started this month’s third round of mass testing with 13 million people on Thursday following the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases found in a single day. In addition, it cancelled all flights at its airport and placed all residential communities under closed management.
Xianyang International Airport has cancelled all domestic flights on Thursday. The Chinese flight tracking platform Feichangzhun showed that 765 flights that were planned on Thursday were canceled. Only three international flights at the airport remained normal at press time. In addition, trains to several cities have been suspended.
As of Thursday, all residents of the city, where about 13 million people live, we are required to remain indoors. Only one family member in each household is allowed to leave the home to buy daily necessities every second day. Other than special needs such as sickness or participating in anti-epidemic work, people are not encouraged to go outside.
Xi’an now has one high-risk and 40 medium-risk regions. If residents have special reasons for leaving the city, they must submit a negative nucleic acid test certificate and an official letter from the local administration.
Local officials had issued a stay-at-home orders to more than 13 million residents as the citputsut all communities to closed management starting from Wednesday midnight to slow down rampant viral transmission.
Lockdown at Xi’an is among the largest in the country this year. Yang Zhanqiu, a deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, said that the key reason for the lockdown lies in the scale of community transmission in Xi’an and unclear epidemiological routes – the outbreak has demonstrated at least three transmission chains.
Facing pressure of the upcoming New Year and Spring Festival travel rush, lockdown is necessary to contain the emerging epidemic within a small scale, Yang said, adding that hemorrhagic fever, a natural epidemic disease with a high fatality rate, poses dual challenge for the city to respond.
The new coronavirus has been transmitted stealthily within communities and community transmission has already reached a certain level. The epidemic, characterized by the Delta strain, has entered its peak period, local officials said at a press conference on Wednesday night.
In the past two days the city experienced a chaotic scene as the local implementation of the country’s strategy of pursing a dynamic zero-case situation is plagued by broad questions, such as ambiguous epidemiological studies, crashed health code system, and worries for the postgraduate examinations this weekend.
Rising COVID-19 cases have already led to a panic purchase on Wednesday. Many supermarkets and grocery stores were packed with customers scrambling for food and daily necessities late Wednesday, although local officials ensured food supplies, cooking oil, eggs are sufficient.
A total of 135,000 students will sit the postgraduate exam in Xi’an this weekend. The Deputy Prime Minister insisted on thorough preparation to ensure the safety of teachers and students.
A total of 3,574 schools have suspended offline courses and replaced them with online courses, affecting a total of over 2 million people.