In a closed Chinese city, some complain that it is difficult to obtain food Health News

Residents of the Chinese city of Xi’an are under severe stress under the strict coronavirus lockdown, with some complaining of difficulties finding food, despite assurances from authorities that they can provide essentials for the 13 million people largely confined to their homes.

Strict measures to stem the outbreak are commonplace in China, which continues to pursue a policy of eliminating every COVID-19 case long after many other countries have chosen to try to live with the virus. But the lockdown imposed on December 23 in the city of Xi’an is one of the harshest in the country since the lockdown in 2020 in and around Wuhan, after the coronavirus was first detected there.

On Tuesday, authorities announced the closure of another city, Liuzhou in Henan Province, for the weekend after only three asymptomatic cases were discovered.

The Chinese have largely complied with the strict measures throughout the pandemic, but complaints about the hard-line policies have emerged, despite the risk of retaliation by the communist authorities. However, the shutdown of Xi’an comes at a particularly sensitive time, as China prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which will open on February 4, and is therefore under particularly heavy pressure to contain the outbreak.

“It is not possible to leave the building, and it has become more and more difficult to buy food online,” said a Xi’an resident, who posted on social media platform Weibo under the name Mu Qingyuani Sayno. The post was from a verified account, but the person did not respond to a request for further comments.

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Zhang Canyou, an expert with the State Council’s Epidemiology Prevention and Control Team, acknowledged that “there may be supply pressure in the communities.”

But the Xinhua News Agency also quoted him as saying, “The government will make every effort to coordinate resources to provide people with daily necessities and medical services.”

The lockdown in Xi’an originally allowed people to leave the house every two days to buy essential goods, but it has since been tightened, although rules vary according to the severity of the outbreak in each region. Some people are not allowed to go outside at all and the goods must be delivered to them. People can only leave the city with special permission.

In recent days, people in Xi’an can be seen shopping in pop-up markets, served by workers in head-to-toe white protective suits. Community volunteers also visited people’s homes to ask what they needed.

However, tension is starting to set in, with residents increasingly complaining on Weibo about its inability to provide the necessities. In one widely shared video, guards are seen attacking a man who tried to deliver steamed buns to family members. The guards later apologized to the man and were each fined 200 yuan ($31), according to a Xi’an police statement posted on Weibo.

In an online diary on the popular Weixin website, a writer based in Xi’an said that after an initial wave of panic buying and market closings, residents soon began searching for food online.

“In the era of material surplus, when everyone is trying to lose weight, finding enough food suddenly becomes a difficult task,” Jiang Xue wrote, and the message sent was not immediately returned to the account.

China’s “zero tolerance” strategy of isolating every case, mass testing and trying to prevent new infections from abroad helped contain the previous outbreak. But the lockdowns are far more stringent than anything seen in the West, and they have taken a heavy toll on the economy and the lives of millions of people.

Procedures are often applied after a few cases have been identified, as seen in Liuzhou. Since the rules were imposed there on Sunday, residents have been allowed to return to the city of 1.7 million, but they have not been allowed to leave and must isolate in their homes. Only emergency vehicles are allowed on city roads. Restaurants, sports facilities and a wide range of other businesses have been ordered to close, while markets provide only basic necessities, said an order from the city government.

Meanwhile, the city of Xi’an, home to the famous Terracotta Army statues along with major industries, has seen more than 1,600 cases in an increase that officials say is caused by the delta variant, which is less contagious than the newer omicron strain, which is China. Only a few cases have been reported. Another 95 injuries were announced on Tuesday.

China has reported a total of 102,841 cases and 4,636 deaths since the epidemic began. While these numbers are relatively small compared to the United States and other countries, and likely underestimated as they are everywhere, they do show that the virus persists despite China’s sometimes stringent measures.

A third round of mass testing has been ordered for Xi’an, which is capable of scanning 10 million people in just seven hours and processing up to 3 million results in just 12 hours, according to state media.

While the health care system in Wuhan was overwhelmed after the epidemic began there in late 2019, China has not reported any shortages of beds, medical equipment and staff in Xi’an. Twenty-four special teams have been set up to deal with COVID-19 cases and two hospitals have been designated to provide other types of care, Xinhua reported.

China has vaccinated nearly 85% of its population, according to Our World in Data report. The injections helped reduce the severity of the disease, although Chinese vaccines are considered less effective than those used elsewhere.

In a sign of the pressure the authorities are under to curb this outbreak, officials have been told that they will lose their jobs if they do not reduce the number of new cases. Already, two senior Communist Party officials in Yanta District, where half of the cases have been registered in the city, have already been dismissed, according to a statement from the government of neighboring Shaanxi Province.

The head of a tourism company reached by phone on Tuesday said supplies are basically adequate, but his business has been struggling since July.

“Now with the lockdown, the effect has been very great,” said the man, who was given only his last name, Wen, as is common among the Chinese.

Chen Helen, who works at a traditional mutton stew restaurant, said the shutdown has brought business to a disturbing halt.

Chen said over the phone: “We used to have about a hundred customers every day, but we haven’t had any for more than ten days since the shutdown. The impact on our business is great, but I can go shopping once every day. Few days in the supermarkets.” There are enough supplies.”

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