BEIJING (Reuters) -A lockdown of 13 million people in the Chinese city of Xian entered its seventh day on Wednesday, with many unable to leave their residential compounds and relying on deliveries of necessities as new COVID-19 infections persisted.
Xian reported 151 domestically transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms for Tuesday, or nearly all of the 152 cases nationwide, bringing the total number of local Xian cases to nearly 1,000 during the Dec. 9-28 period. No cases of the Omicron variant have been announced in the city so far.
While the Xian outbreak is small compared with outbreaks in many other places around the world, officials have imposed tough curbs on travel within and leaving the city from Dec. 23, in line with Beijing’s drive to immediately contain outbreaks as they appear.
People in the city have not been allowed to leave town without clearance from their employer or community authorities.
A 32-year-old mechanic went to Xian on a business trip and had planned to leave last week, only to find he had to stay for longer after local community officials refused to grant the certificate to clear his departure.
That means he has missed his wife’s birthday and might be forced to spend the New Year in Xian. “I just want to go home,” he told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Since Monday, the Xian government has suspended granting permission to people seeking to leave their homes to buy essentials, as epidemic containment measures rose a notch.
The city said in-person shopping could be resumed for people in less risky areas once mass testing returned negative results, without saying exactly when stay-at-home orders would be lifted.
The measure stirred complaints on social media from some residents about the uncertain access to fresh produce.
Several district-level governments in Xian have started arranging grocery deliveries to peoples’ homes, or setting up temporary booths in large residential compounds selling fresh produce, the city government said on Wednesday.
A 23-year-old student in Xian, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said his family had received one free package of vegetables delivered to his home since the shopping restriction, and has not yet been told when the next batch will arrive.
There was no choice on what was delivered, but the package included the most common groceries: “Although I do crave certain food, there is no disruption to my daily life.”
Authorities started another round of city-wide testing on Wednesday, the fifth since Dec. 21. The number of infections found from mass testing started to decline in the fourth round, while the numbers in the first three were elevated, a local official said on Wednesday.
Samsung, which operates a sprawling semiconductor base in Xian, said on Wednesday it had decided to “temporarily adjust operations” at manufacturing facilities in the city due to the COVID-19 situation.
Chinese electric vehicle company BYD Co reiterated on Wednesday that the virus had caused some impact, without giving a timeline on when operations may normalise.
“Our production has been affected by the epidemic outbreak to some degree,” BYD told Reuters. “We are currently actively making adjustments in response.”
Western Superconducting Technologies said on Tuesday its current production wasn’t at full capacity as it complied with government’s COVID-19 curb, while it will produce at full capacity once the Xian outbreak is under control.
(Reporting by Roxanne Liu, Martin Quin Pollard, Sophie Yu, Ryan Woo and Gabriel CrossleyEditing by Ryan Woo, Shri Navaratnam and Michael Perry)