Chinese city of Xian confines its 13 million residents amid rising COVID-19 cases

December 23, 2021

Workers in protective suits at the entrance to the residential area of ​​a university under closure after the COVID-19 outbreak in Xian, Shaanxi province, China, December 20, 2021. REUTERS / China Daily

BEIJING, Dec 23 (Reuters) – The Chinese city of Xian has imposed strict restrictions on travel and movement within the city, putting its 13 million residents in a state of lockdown as a new COVID-19 outbreak increases cases in community.

The daily count of internally transmitted COVID-19 infections with confirmed symptoms in Xian has increased for six consecutive days since December 17.

This brings the total number of local cases to more than 200 during the December 9-22 period, less than many outbreaks outside of China. In Xian, no infection caused by the omicron variant has been detected.

In line with Beijing’s stance not to allow any outbreak to spread, Xian has put up barriers to the exit of residents.

Those who want to travel outside the city have to test negative for COVID-19 before leaving and obtain authorization from their companies or community authorities.

The city has suspended long-distance bus services and banned taxis and cars rented from travel platforms on request to leave the city, and has dispatched police to highway exits to deter those who pretended leave.

On Wednesday China confirmed a total of 71 local symptomatic cases, including 63 in Xian, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.

There were no new deaths, bringing the number of fatalities nationwide to 4,636.

China had 100,644 confirmed cases as of Dec. 22, including both local ones and those detected among international travelers.

(Reporting by Roxanne Liu, RyStella Qiu, Albee Zhang and Ryan Woo; edited by Himani Sarkar, Kenneth Maxwell and Gerry Doyle, translated by Tomás Cobos)