BEIJING (AP) — State media are reporting the Chinese city of Xi’an has gradually begun lifting restrictions after over three weeks of lockdown as authorities sought to stamp out a local outbreak.
State-owned broadcaster CCTV reported Sunday that certain counties and development zones in Xi'an had begun restoring production, citing a news conference by Xi’an officials.
They also said that lockdown measures had been either partially or completely lifted in some communities that have been designated as lower risk, allowing people to leave their homes for a limited time to purchase daily necessities.
The partial lifting of measures comes after the city went into strict lockdown on Dec. 22, following a local coronavirus outbreak that officials attributed to the delta variant. The city has reported over 2,000 infections since December last year.
China is seeking to stamp out local transmission of the omicron and delta variants with its “zero COVID” policy. Several municipalities and cities in the southern province of Guangdong as well as Beijing have in recent days reported local cases of the more contagious omicron variant.
Beijing Daily reported Sunday that the capital will require travelers to take nucleic acid tests within 72 hours of entry into the city from Jan. 22, days after it reported its first omicron case on Saturday with just three weeks before it hosts the Winter Olympic Games.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story is below:
Beijing has reported its first local omicron infection, according to state media, weeks before the Winter Olympic Games are due to start.
The infected person lives and works in the city’s northwestern district of Haidian and had no travel history outside of Beijing for the past two weeks. The individual experienced symptoms on Thursday and was tested on Friday for COVID-19, officials said in a news conference Saturday.
The news of the infection comes less than three weeks before the Winter Olympic Games’ opening ceremony on Feb 4., and around two weeks before the start of Lunar New Year celebrations in China.
So far, multiple cities in China have reported omicron infections, including Zhuhai and Zhongshan in southern Guangdong province as well as the city of Tianjin, which is 30 minutes from Beijing by high-speed rail.
Officials across the country have urged residents to stay in their cities for the new year, instead of traveling back to their hometowns. China has adopted a strict “zero-Covid” policy, with authorities locking down residential compounds and even entire cities such as Xi’an when a local outbreak has been discovered in an effort to stamp out community transmission.
The Beijing patient’s residential compound and workplace have been sealed off and authorities are mass-testing people linked to either location for the coronavirus. Some 2,430 people had been tested as of Saturday night, according to The Global Times, a state-owned newspaper.
China reported 119 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, of which 65 were domestic cases. The country has reported 104,864 infections since the beginning of the pandemic.
This story has been corrected to remove mention of Xi’an and Shanghai among places with local omicron cases.
Zen Soo, The Associated Press