Xian is battling the biggest COVID-19 outbreak of a Chinese city this year

  • Xian hit more than 1,100 locally transmitted cases since December 9th
  • Outbreaks in Xian worst for any Chinese city this year
  • City officials are embarking on the sixth round of city-wide testing

BEIJING, Dec. 30 (Reuters) – China’s Industrial and Technology Center in Xian on Thursday reported more than 100 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its number of locally transmitted infections to the highest in any Chinese city this year.

Xian reported 155 new local cases on December 29, official data showed. That brings the number of local infections to more than 1,100 since the flare-up began on December 9, forcing authorities to put the city at 13 million under lockdown.

Despite the low number of cases compared to clusters in many cities around the world, Xian officials have imposed strict limits on travel within and out of the city since December 23, as Beijing demands that each outbreak be curtailed quickly.

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“Xian has reached a life-or-death stage in his fight against the virus,” Zhang Fenghu, a city government official, said at a news conference Wednesday.

Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and Micron Technology (MU.O), two of the world’s largest memory chip manufacturers, have warned that the shutdown could affect their chip production bases in the area. Read more

Xian is also a major tourist destination, attracting visitors to its collection of terracotta warriors buried with China’s first emperor more than 2,000 years ago.

Authorities have begun several rounds of nationwide testing to track transmissions. A sixth round began Thursday, the day after a fifth round.

Many residents have been barred from leaving their residential areas unless they have to go out to take COVID-19 tests or take care of significant matters approved by the authorities.

The restrictions have curtailed access to daily necessities, with many people unable to go shopping, making them dependent on supplies.

But the curbs have caused a staffing crisis at companies involved in securing supplies, and the government was working to resolve the issue, according to an Xian official.

WUHAN ANNIVERSARY

A Xian resident named He told Reuters she tried to order groceries on the online app from the Alibaba-backed supermarket chain Freshippo, but she could not secure many items, including potatoes and cucumber.

The app posted a message under many items saying, “Delivery staff are not available,” according to a screenshot he provided.

Several urban districts have provided free groceries to some residential areas, state media said.

The total supply of necessities in Xian was sufficient, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce told reporters.

Reuters graphics

Xian lockdown, now on its eighth day, coincides with the second anniversary of early signs of the coronavirus outbreak in central Wuhan city.

Wuhan’s health authorities said in a statement issued on December 30, 2019, that some pneumonia patients were suffering from a disease of “an unknown cause”, according to state media.

Also on Thursday, thousands of people left messages on the late COVID-19 whistleblower Li Wenliang’s account on social media on the anniversary of the day – also December 30, 2019 – that he became aware of the possibility of a pneumonia-causing virus in Wuhan. Read more

As of Wednesday, mainland China had reported 101,890 confirmed coronavirus cases, including both local and imported, with a death toll of 4,636.

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Reporting by Ryann Woo, Roxanne Liu, Beijing Newsroom, Gabriel Crossley and Albee Zhang; editing by Karishma Singh

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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