China locks up millions again over Omicron outbreaks

China locks up millions again over Omicron outbreaks

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In China, the large city of Xi’an, located in the center of the country, is closing down. Starting at midnight on July 5 and for a week, public places, schools, places of worship, museums and markets will be closed. Eighteen cases of Omicron have been reported since Saturday.

With RFI China Correspondent Stéphane Lagarde

Xi’an, a historic city of 13 million people that endured a month-long lockdown late last year, was placed under “temporary control measures” after detecting 29 infections since Saturday.

Public entertainment venues, including pubs, internet cafes and karaoke bars, were closed from midnight on Wednesday.

Schoolchildren have gone on vacation early, cafes and restaurants only serve takeaways, and once again the 13 million inhabitants of the former imperial capital are being asked to limit their outings. “We are in a race against time against the virus,” Zhang Xuedong, deputy director of the Office of Epidemic Prevention and Control, said Tuesday night.

Xi’an is now in its ninth prevention and control plan and has nine zones classified as high-risk Covid-19 and ten medium-risk zones, in which residents must stay at home. The rest of the population is not confined, but this French professor fears that the Omicron rebound will ruin his vacation on Hainan Island.

“When they establish risk zones for only a few cases,” he says, “it’s usually because [las autoridades] They don’t know where the contamination comes from. At the moment, I am not worried about my trip. But I don’t know what the Hainan reception committee will say to Xi’an tourists. If it is to spend my week of vacation in quarantine in a hotel that I have not chosen and from which I will not even see the sea, then no thanks. Every time outbreaks are discovered at the local level, there is a race for more restrictions.”

Asterisk on sanitary passes

The surprising thing, continues this professor, “is the discrepancy between the relaxation measures decreed by the central government a few days ago and the firmness of the local authorities who fear being sanctioned. We no longer have asterisks in the health QR codes, but at the local the restrictions of the ‘zero Covid’ policy are activated even faster in the slightest case of contagion “.

The asterisk system, a star on health passes that indicates that a person has traveled through a district in which cases of infection have been registered and, therefore, stigmatizes, was eliminated by the National Health Commission to promote travel. interregional.

At the same time, no city wants to risk falling into the same situation as Shanghai and its long lockdown, and local authorities are stepping up checks as soon as new infections appear. Xi’an, one of the major cultural tourism destinations, is eagerly awaiting the return of tourists this summer. Starting Wednesday, museums including the famous tomb of the first emperor Qin Shi Huang and his terracotta army will be temporarily closed.

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