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Beijing (AFP) – The Chinese city of Xi’an, where 13 million people are currently confined to their homes, announced tightened restrictions on Sunday as the country recorded its highest number of Covid-19 infections in 21 months.
China has stuck to a “zero-Covid” strategy involving strict border restrictions, long quarantines and targeted lockdowns.
Authorities have been particularly vigilant in recent months to avoid an outbreak ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, but there have been sporadic outbreaks.
But on Sunday, the country reported 206 new Covid infections – the highest daily number since March 2020.
“In the coming days, a number of cases are still likely to be detected,” Xi’an official He Wenquan warned, calling on the city’s population not to panic.
The northern metropolis – about 900 km (560 miles) from the Olympic Games venues – reported 155 new Covid patients on Sunday, bringing the total to nearly 500 in recent weeks.
About 29,000 people have been quarantined in a hotel, he said.
Residents of Xi’an have already been tested several times, authorities said, and “total” disinfection was due to begin on Sunday evening.
Traffic restrictions have also been tightened.
Each household can only send one member to buy basic necessities once every three days, compared to two days under the previous rules.
All businesses except supermarkets, convenience stores and medical establishments have been ordered to close.
Since the coronavirus first appeared in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, China has largely kept the pandemic at bay.
The country has only officially recorded two deaths in more than a year.
© 2021 AFP