26 punished for violating protocol as Chinese city battles Covid outbreak

Beijing, Dec 24 (EFE).- Chinese authorities have castigated 26 people for allegedly being responsible for a Covid-19 outbreak in the central city of Xian, a day after it was put under a strict lockdown, state media reported on Friday.

A municipal inspection found out that these individuals had disobeyed the security protocol and failed to “rigorously implement” containment measures, official news agency Xinhua said.

The report did not mention the type of punishment to be levelled against the culprits in the capital of the central Shaanxi province, which has a population of around 13 million.

Between Oct. 9 and Thursday the city, known for its famous terracotta army figures, had reported 255 locally transmitted coronavirus cases.

From Thursday, the residential complexes in the city have been put in a “closed circuit,” while schools have been shut and all events cancelled, with work from home being mandatory for everyone except health personnel.

City authorities have begun mass testing residents, and just one person per family is allowed to venture out once in two days to buy food and other basic necessities.

Residents have also been urged to not leave Xian unless it is strictly necessary, and those who want to travel outside the city need approval of local authorities as well as a negative PCR test report.

The Xianyang international airport on Thursday cancelled all domestic operations, affecting 765 flights, according to the Global Times, which reported that train connections had also been suspended.

Xian is the third Chinese city of over 10 million inhabitants to be put under a complete lockdown since the pandemic was first recognized in early 2020 and the first epicenter, Wuhan, was put under confinement.

The measure was also imposed earlier this year in Shijiazhuang, situated in the northern Hebei province.

In recent days the city has also reported several cases of hemorrhagic fever, a potentially lethal infectious disease which has symptoms similar to Covid-19, such as fever and cough.

China has so far not confirmed any locally transmitted cases of the Omicron variant, although infections have been reported among travelers arriving from overseas while they were under mandatory quarantine.

China has employed a “zero tolerance” policy towards coronavirus, which means strict entry controls with up to three weeks of mandatory quarantine and several different tests, apart from mass testing campaigns and targeted lockdowns in areas where outbreaks are detected.

According to data released by Chinese health authorities, currently there are 1,851 active cases in the country, out of which nine people are seriously ill.

As per official figures, China has so far registered over 100,000 Covid-19 cases and 4,636 deaths. EFE


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