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China’s Xian orders partial COVID lockdown

The northwestern Chinese city of Xian says it will temporarily impose a partial lockdown to reduce its 13 million residents’ movement, after reporting dozens of COVID-19 infections this month, as China fights a record wave of cases.

Since March, mainland China has been grappling with the worst COVID-19 outbreak since the virus first emerged in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019.

Though the numbers remain moderate by international comparisons, the latest wave has put huge pressure on China’s “dynamic-clearance” policy that aims to leave no infections undetected, with tough measures disrupting supply chains and local economies.

Chinese president Xi Jinping said there should be no let up in virus control and prevention efforts while China would strive to minimise the policy’s impact on the economic and social development.

Xian, which locked down its residents in December to fight a Delta variant outbreak, found 43 locally transmitted infections in its current Omicron flare-up.

On Friday, the city responded with curbs on residents’ movement from Saturday through to Tuesday, though stopped short of imposing a full lockdown.

Residents should largely keep their movements within residential compounds, while companies should operate normally but are encouraged to have employees working remotely or living at their workplace, the local government said in a statement.

Between April 16 and April 19, the city will also suspend dining at restaurants, various entertainment and cultural venues and some face-to-face school sessions. Taxis and cars operating on ride-hailing platforms will also be not allowed to leave the city, according to the statement.

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