China announced a significant decline in local COVID-19 infections on Wednesday in Xi’an, the northern city that has been under a strict lockdown for the past two weeks, putting the city’s capacity to supply supplies for residents confined to their houses to the test.
With the Beijing Olympics starting on February 4, China is stepping up efforts to avoid any new outbreaks from disrupting the games.
People are being advised to only travel in and out of Beijing if absolutely necessary, and hotels are no longer accepting new reservations. As soon as they arrive, athletes, officials, and media enter a “anti-pandemic” bubble, which they will remain in until the Winter Games end on February 4-20.
There will be no supporters from outside China, and the majority of the viewers will come from schools, government offices, and the military, rather than the ordinary population.
On Tuesday, Chinese President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping paid a visit to Olympic locations across the capital, including the major media center, to emphasize the significance of the event.
The official Xinhua News Agency quoted Xi as stating, “Staging important international athletic events such as the Winter Olympics will be a chance to strengthen the impact of Chinese culture, the reach of news reporting, and the nation’s soft power.”
Concerns over the outbreak add to the difficulties surrounding the Games, which have been beset by controversy over China’s human rights record, with the US and close allies pledging a diplomatic boycott. This year, Xi is seeking re-election to a third five-year term as China’s leader, and he is keen to prevent any developments that may harm his image.
The National Health Commission reported just 35 new cases in Xi’an on Wednesday, down from 95 the day before. Xi’an is home to the iconic Terracotta Warriors monuments as well as important enterprises.
This is the first time the number of new cases has dropped below 100 on a daily basis, requiring officials to keep, and in some cases strengthen, restrictions on individuals leaving their homes.
In the recent outbreak in Xi’an, there have been over 1,600 illnesses but no deaths. In comparison to outbreaks in other countries, this is a tiny amount, indicating that China’s “zero tolerance” approach of quarantining every case, mass testing, and attempting to prevent new infections from entering the country has helped them manage large outbreaks.
According to Our World in Data, China has immunized roughly 85 percent of its people. Although Chinese vaccines are considered less effective than those used elsewhere, the shots have helped to reduce the severity of disease.
The restrictions, on the other hand, are considerably more severe than anything seen in the West, and they have taken a huge toll on the economy and the lives of millions of people.
Food shortages have been reported in Xi’an, although officials have defended the policies and promised to maintain enough supply. Some households receive free food parcels, while others place food orders online.
The lifting of the lockdown has yet to be determined by officials.
However, Chen Zhijun, Deputy Director of the city’s Center for Disease Control, stated that would only happen when Xi’an determined that there had been no new transmissions among the general public and that the only new cases were among intimate connections of individuals who had previously been quarantined.
According to Xinhua, at least two district Communist Party officials in Xi’an have been fired for failing to contain the epidemic, while a third, Liu Jun, the head of the city’s big data management office, has been suspended.
According to Xinhua, the city’s health code system, which tracks movements and immunization statuses, collapsed on Dec. 20 owing to increased traffic as case numbers grew.
Yuzhou, in Henan province, was placed under lockdown over the weekend after just three asymptomatic cases were discovered.
In the metropolis of 1.17 million people, only emergency vehicles are allowed on the roads, classes have been canceled, and businesses that cater to the public have closed for everything except the most basic necessities.
On Wednesday, the province of Henan reported two additional asymptomatic cases, though it was unclear if they were in Yuzhou, where officials said they expect 5,000 beds at quarantine centers to be ready within days. Despite the fact that only a few cases have been found, several other cities in the province have ordered mass testing, closed public venues, and limited or stopped interstate travel.
China has recorded a total of 102,932 cases across the country, with a death toll of 4,636.