China tightens restrictions in Xi’an as city reports highest daily COVID-19 cases

In the Chinese city of Xian, Beijing has ordered that roads, buildings, and open spaces be cleaned as part of today’s increase in lockdown restrictions to their’strictest level.’

Xian’s caseload, which dropped to 150 on Sunday from 155 the day before, is still small in comparison to many other clusters throughout the world, but Beijing has moved quickly to impose stringent restrictions, ordering all residents to stay at home for all but essential travel on Thursday.

On Sunday afternoon, the city’s 13 million residents were given only a few hours’ notice that a “full-scale” deep clean would begin at 6 pm, with pictures showing trucks cannoning a fog of disinfectant as they toured the streets and workers in full PPE spraying chemicals on buildings and subway stations.

On Monday, Communist officials tightened restrictions by imposing a driving ban with a 10-day jail sentence for anyone caught behind the wheel.

Also read | China local symptomatic COVID cases rises for a 4th day as Xian outbreak expands

These anxieties are heightened by research from Hong Kong University, which shows that even with a booster shot, China’s Sinovac vaccination provides minimal protection against the new variant.

Residents of Xian have been prohibited from leaving the city without permission from their employer or the government since last week.

Watch | China records biggest COVID-19 infection surge in 21 months, Xian emerges as hot spot

During a new round of mass testing that began on Monday, officials limited people’s ability to go out for vital shopping and prohibited non-essential vehicles from entering the roadways.

On Monday, there were no additional deaths, bringing the total number of people killed in the country to 4,636. As of the end of December, mainland China reported 101,486 confirmed symptomatic cases, including both local and international cases.

(With inputs from agencies)

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