Xian fights biggest COVID-19 outbreak in Chinese city this year

  • Xian affected by more than 1,100 locally transmitted cases since December 9
  • Xian outbreak is worst for any Chinese city this year
  • City authorities embark on sixth round of city-wide tests

BEIJING, Dec. 30 (Reuters) – China’s Xian Industrial and Technology Center on Thursday reported more than 100 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of locally transmitted infections to the highest of any Chinese city this year.

Xian reported 155 new local cases as of December 29, according to official data. That brings its number of local infections to more than 1,100 since the outbreak began on December 9 and has forced authorities to quarantine the city of 13 million people.

Despite the low number of cases compared to clusters in many cities around the world, officials in Xian have imposed strict restrictions on movement within and outside the city since December 23, as Beijing demands that every epidemic is contained quickly.

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“Xian has reached a life or death stage in its fight against the virus,” Zhang Fenghu, a city government official, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and Micron Technology (MU.O), two of the world’s largest memory chip makers, have warned the lockdown could affect their chip manufacturing bases in the region. Read more

Xian is also a major tourist destination, drawing visitors to its collection of terracotta warriors buried with the first emperor of China over 2,000 years ago.

Authorities have embarked on several rounds of city-wide tests to trace the transmissions. A sixth round began on Thursday, one day after a fifth round.

Many residents have not been allowed to leave their homes unless they come out to take COVID-19 tests or deal with essential matters approved by authorities.

Restrictions have restricted access to daily necessities, with many people unable to go out to shop, leaving them dependent on deliveries.

But the restrictions caused a shortage of staff at companies involved in delivering the supplies and the government was working to resolve the issue, according to a government official in Xian.


A Xian resident named He told Reuters that she tried to order groceries on the online app of Alibaba-backed supermarket chain Freshippo, but was unable to obtain many items including potatoes and cucumber.

The app posted a message under numerous items saying, “Delivery people are not available,” according to a screenshot it provided.

Several areas of the city have arranged for the delivery of free groceries to some residential complexes, state media said.

The total supply of basic necessities in Xian was sufficient, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce told reporters.

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The lockdown of Xian, which is now in its eighth day, coincides with the second anniversary of the first signs of the coronavirus outbreak in the central city of Wuhan.

Wuhan health officials said in a notice published on December 30, 2019, that some pneumonia patients had an illness of “unknown cause,” according to state media.

Also on Thursday, thousands of people left messages on the social media account of the late COVID-19 whistleblower Li Wenliang on the anniversary – also December 30, 2019 – that he learned of the possibility of a virus causing pneumonia in Wuhan. Read more

Mainland China had reported 101,890 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Wednesday, including local and imported cases, with a death toll of 4,636.

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Reporting by Ryann Woo, Roxanne Liu, Beijing Newsroom, Gabriel Crossley and Albee Zhang; edited by Karishma Singh

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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