Workers members in protecting fits conduct COVID-19 nuclei acid checks at a residential space on January 2, 2021 in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province of China. (VCG/Getty Photographs)

Editor’s word: A model of this publish appeared in CNN’s In the meantime in China publication, a three-times-a-week replace exploring what it’s worthwhile to know concerning the nation’s rise and the way it impacts the world. Enroll right here.

For residents in China’s northwestern metropolis of Xi’an, the beginning of 2022 is trying loads like 2020 — solely worse.


Since December, the traditional metropolis referred to as the house of the Terracotta Warriors has been grappling with China’s largest group coronavirus outbreak since Wuhan, the unique epicenter of the pandemic.

Thus far, greater than 1,600 symptomatic infections have been reported within the metropolis. Whereas the quantity pales compared to these in lots of different international locations, the outbreak pushed China’s caseload within the last week of 2021 to the very best stage since March 2020.

For 12 days and counting, Xi’an’s 13 million residents have been confined to their houses. Town, previously a vacationer hotspot, welcomed the brand new yr with abandoned streets, shuttered shops, sealed-off residential compounds and an empty airport.

The lockdown is the strictest and largest since Wuhan, which sealed off 11 million folks in early 2020. However it’s also among the many most chaotic, leaving residents wanting meals and different important provides and affecting entry to medical providers.

A groundswell of anger and frustration on the native authorities has ensued, underscoring the rising problem dealing with China’s zero-Covid coverage, which depends on a playbook of mass testing, in depth quarantines and snap lockdowns to stamp out any resurgence of the virus.

For nearly two years, these stringent measures have shielded nearly all of the nation from the worst points of the pandemic, successful overwhelming public help. However as native outbreaks proceed to flare up, the outcry in Xi’an raises the query of simply how lengthy zero-Covid could be sustained earlier than public help begins to taper off, with thousands and thousands of residents trapped in an seemingly infinite cycle of lockdowns.

Heavy-handed method: On Friday, footage emerged on Weibo of a person being crushed by Covid prevention staff on the gates of a residential compound when he tried to enter with a bag of steamed buns. The video, which instantly went viral, confirmed the buns scattered on the bottom as the person tumbled. The following outcry prompted a assertion from police, which mentioned the 2 attackers have been punished with a seven-day detention and a positive of 200 yuan (about $30).

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