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2022-01-06 10:16:53

As the number of COVID-19 infections in the northwestern city of Xi’an gradually declines, dozens of cases in a neighboring province have posed challenges for authorities to contain the virus surge that has prolonged for nearly three months.

Six cities in the central Henan province logged 64 of the country’s 132 locally transmitted infections on Wednesday, according to the National Health Commission. The city of Xuchang reported 50 confirmed cases, with others detected in Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Zhoukou, Shangqiu, and Gushi.

The infections in Xuchang were discovered just days after the city of Yuzhou placed more than 1 million residents in lockdown Monday over three asymptomatic carriers. Local authorities in Xuchang, which administers Yuzhou, had promised the latter provision of 5,000 rooms for centralized quarantine in case of a surge in infections.

As of Thursday afternoon, Xuchang hadn’t announced any restrictions other than discouraging residents from leaving the city.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 infections in Xi’an dropped to double digits for the fourth day Wednesday, as the provincial capital of Shaanxi province reported 65 locally transmitted confirmed cases, according to the official tally. Local authorities said the city’s new cases were only detected among people either in isolation centers or sealed-off residential areas with prior infections.

“If Xi’an wants to lift the lockdown, it must first achieve zero cases in communities,” Chen Zhijun, deputy director of Xi’an Disease Control and Prevention Center said during a press conference Tuesday. 

Xi’an has been battling China’s worst coronavirus outbreak since the early days of the pandemic in 2020 and has placed 13 million residents in lockdown for two weeks. Over the past days, anxious residents have complained of difficulties securing food supplies and even medical services for ailments other than COVID-19.

After reports of a pregnant woman losing her baby due to a delay in receiving medical attention, Xi’an authorities on Thursday ordered local hospitals not to reject patients due to COVID-19 concerns. Officials dismissed an undisclosed number of personnel from their positions at the Xi’an Gaoxin Hospital, where the woman had sought medical treatment.

The Xi’an government has also suspended the director of the city’s big data center for “dereliction of duty.” The Xi’an Big Data Resources Administration was responsible for managing the city’s health code app, which crashed during the early days of the outbreak, disrupting daily activities for locals.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Volunteers deliver daily supplies in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, Dec. 25, 2021. People Visual)