a China It ended the last week of 2021 with the highest number of Covid-19 cases in any seven-day period since it overtook the first pandemic in nearly two years.
On Saturday (1), the National Health Commission reported 175 new infections in the community with confirmed clinical symptoms as of December 31, bringing the total number of locally symptomatic cases in mainland China to 1151. The increase in cases was mainly driven by the outbreak in the center of industry and technology northwest of Xi’an.
China has retained some of the world’s toughest anti-epidemic measures, although cases fell dramatically earlier this year.
The worsening outbreak in the city of Xi’an, which has a population of 13 million, is likely to reinforce the authorities’ determination to intensify their efforts to limit transmission of the virus when cases emerge. The city has recorded 1,451 local cases since December 9, the highest number of any Chinese city in 2021.
Sheyan has been detained for 10 days since Saturday.
Preventing an outbreak in 2022 is crucial in a year when Beijing will host the Winter Olympics and the Communist Party Congress for five years, when President Xi Jinping is likely to secure a third term as party secretary.
The emergence of the Omicron variant, which is already prompting many countries to back off or suspend reopening plans, will also push Beijing to maintain its heightened vigil against the virus. China has reported a small number of imported Omicron cases and at least one locally transmitted case.
Since August, the country has aimed to keep any outbreak under control in about two weeks, well short of the four to six weeks in previous battles against sporadic outbreaks that followed the initial national pandemic, according to the National Health Commission.
Yunnan province, which shares international borders with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, reported 92 new localized asymptomatic cases out of 365 days in the past year, or 25% of the time, more than any other province, autonomous region or municipality.
Shaanxi Province, of which Xi’an is the capital, reported new localized asymptomatic cases within 30 days.
The Xian outbreak has not yet seen a significant drop in cases. Officials said the virus spread quietly in the city before tight restrictions were imposed.
The outbreak, which has also led to cases in other cities, including Beijing, can be traced back to a flight from Pakistan, but it is unclear how the virus spread to local communities.
Many people have been prevented from leaving their apartment complexes, but a city government official said Friday that barriers will be relaxed in less dangerous areas when the time comes.
Graduate student Li Jia Xin, 23, said no one can leave her university campus. She spent New Year’s Eve with her three roommates and was unable to meet her boyfriend and family.
“I could be considered someone with a strong sense of ritual, so I still feel sad that we’re not together right now,” she said.