City government

China COVID-19 cases rise as Xian steps up restrictions

  • China reports 162 local symptomatic cases from 158 days earlier
  • In Xian 150 cases for Sunday against 155 on Saturday
  • Xian orders non-essential vehicles to travel on roads, begins new mass tests

BEIJING, Dec. 27 (Reuters) – China’s Xian tightened restrictions on travel in the city on Monday as it began a new round of tests on the fifth day of its 13 million residents being contained.

Xian reported 150 new local symptomatic coronavirus cases for Sunday, down slightly from 155 the day before, and officials have warned people who flout travel or testing rules could face detention and criminal charges. fines.

The number of cases in Xian remains minimal compared to many clusters in other countries, but authorities have imposed strict restrictions on movement in and out of the city, in line with the government’s desire to immediately contain the outbreaks.

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Authorities did not announce any infection with the Omicron variant among the 635 confirmed cases in Xian from December 9 to Sunday. China has only detected a handful of Omicron infections among international travelers and in its south.

Nationwide, China reported 162 national symptomatic cases as of Sunday, up from 158 a day earlier. This is the highest number since the official daily bulletin began separately categorizing asymptomatic carriers at the end of March last year.

Since last week, residents of Xian have not been allowed to leave the city without permission from their employer or the authorities.

As of Monday, no vehicles are allowed on the roads unless it is to fight the virus or provide for the needs of people and violators could face up to 10 days of police detention and 500 yuan ( $ 78.48) fine.

The city told residents on Monday not to leave their homes unless they donate samples in a new round of city-wide tests. People living in less risky areas would be allowed to buy basic necessities if the tests come back negative, the city government said.

Anyone refusing to follow the rules during tests, including standing three feet apart in queues, could also face detention and a fine, police said.

Xian has also launched a city-wide disinfection campaign, with workers spraying pathogen-killing solutions on roads and buildings.

Dongyan Jin, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, said massive disinfection of outdoor air and surfaces seemed unnecessary given the low risk of people catching COVID-19 from outdoor surfaces or the environment. air with so few people outside.

“This is about shooting mosquitoes with cannons,” Jin said, although he said he believed disinfection of interior surfaces, especially in places visited by infected people, was necessary.

Infections were also found in two other cities in Shaanxi province – the same province as Xian – and in the Guangxi region and Zhejiang, Guangdong and Sichuan provinces.

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Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Kenneth Maxwell and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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