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China’s Xian vows strict implementation of Covid curbs even as cases decline

Residents take nucleic acid samples at a gated community in Xian, Shaanxi Province, China on Jan. 4, 2022. Xian is demanding officials “strictly and properly” implement Covid-19 curbs.
Yi Qing | Costfoto | Future Publishing via Getty Images

Xian, a Chinese city almost two weeks into a lockdown, is demanding officials “strictly and properly” implement Covid-19 curbs, as new local cases among its 13 million residents have started to grow at a slower pace.

Xian, which on Dec. 23 imposed strict curbs on travel within the city and leaving town, reported 95 domestically transmitted cases with confirmed clinical symptoms for Monday, up slightly from 95 a day earlier, official data showed on Tuesday.

Monday also marked the second consecutive day for which Xian reported less than 100 local cases since Dec. 24.

“The various work that needs to be done must only be strengthened,” said Liu Guozhong, provincial head of the Communist Party in Shaanxi, of which Xian is its capital.

The epidemic control effort is at a pivotal moment, Liu said.

The latest infections brings the tally of local cases to over 1,700 since Dec. 9 in Xian’s latest outbreak.

“We’d rather widen our identification of groups at [virus] risk than to overlook a single person,” Liu was quoted as saying in an article published by the Xian government on Tuesday.

No one should be overlooked during mass testing in key Xian areas and “household doors” should be closely watched in rural parts of the city to make sure people are complying with travel curbs, Liu said.

Many people have been banned from leaving their residential compounds unless for urgent matters approved by their community-based authority. All residents need to have proof of a negative test result checked by community staffers before they can seek medical services at hospitals.

The restrictions have also curtailed access to daily necessities, with many people unable to go out to shop, leaving them dependent on deliveries.

Xian has said curbs can be loosened when the time is proper to gradually resume normality within certain compounds when their virus risk becomes lower.

Xian’s case count is tiny compared to many outbreaks elsewhere in the world.

But Beijing is keen to keep a lid on outbreaks ahead of the Winter Olympics in February, and the Communist Party’s once-every-five-years congress expected later in the year.

Xian is stepping up efforts to achieve “zero cases in communities,” a situation where all new infections are found among people already in quarantine, state television quoted Chen Zhijun, an official at Xian’s disease control authority, as saying.

That will create good conditions for the city’s next downgrade in virus curbs, Chen said.

In areas where infections are concentrated, people who have been in contact with the close contacts of cases should be moved to centralized facilities for quarantine, Xian said on Sunday, citing an unidentified virus control expert.

The city will rectify “weaknesses in the services” for people at certain quarantined facilities, a city official told reporters in a press conference on Monday.

Aside from the 95 cases in Xian, Zhejiang province and Henan province also reported a handful of local symptomatic infections for Monday.

There were no new fatalities, leaving the death toll unchanged at 4,636.

Mainland China had 102,841 confirmed symptomatic cases as of the end of Jan. 3, including both local and imported ones.

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