The chief epidemiologist of China’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) has said that the current outbreak of COVID-19 in the Shaanxi provincial capital Xi’an is the worst in China since the lockdown in Wuhan, which was implemented in January 2020.
Zeng Guang pointed out that Xi’an was facing an outbreak of the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than previous variants which led authorities to impose a lockdown in Wuhan and later led China to restrict international travel.
Since December 9, 2021, Xi’an has reported over 1,000 positive cases, a relatively high number for a country still pursuing a “zero-COVID” strategy.
An aerial shot shows the almost empty streets of Xi'an during lockdown. Image via Weibo/@乌镇老田埂
Since December 23, 2021, lockdown measures have been imposed on the city in order to contain the spread of the virus. Measures include residential communities limiting how often people can leave their homes and the shut-down of all non-essential shops and services.
Those in Xi’an should not leave the city, unless absolutely necessary. Those with exceptional circumstances who need to leave for essential purposes must have proof of a negative nucleic acid test issued within 48 hours of departure and fill out special paperwork.
Reports of some residents locked in their residential areas unable to get adequate food circulated on social media. However, there have been many people on hand to ensure the demand for basic food and medicine supplies is met. Community workers, supermarket employees and others have all delivered food to residential communities.
Furthermore, China has allocated RMB500 million (approximately USD78.42 million) for epidemic control in Shaanxi.
In a somewhat distressing story which circulated on Weibo, a pregnant woman was reportedly denied access to Xi’an’s High-tech (Gaoxin) hospital because she couldn’t show proof of a negative nucleic acid test.
A Weibo hashtag regarding the incident has received 840 million views, as of press time.
Sina News reports that a family member of the pregnant woman dialled 120 (first-aid ambulance) on January 1, 2020 but got no answer and had to dial 110 (police) instead. The pregnant woman was said to be suffering from stomach pain.
The individual was reportedly stuck outside the hospital for around two hours. During this time, she suffered bleeding. It was later found that she had had a miscarriage.
The general manager of the hospital said the individual is now undergoing surgery and that an investigation is under way as to why she was denied entry into the hospital.
The Xi’an outbreak is perhaps a reminder that even in a country pursuing a “zero-COVID” policy, strict lockdowns are not off the table. It also shows that China will likely not change its policy for the time being.
[Cover image via Pixabay]