The northwestern city of Xian has been under tight restrictions since December 23
Hundreds of residents in a locked-down city in China were evicted from their homes in the middle of the night and carted off to quarantine facilities, it has been reported.
Xian has been under tight restrictions since December 23, with its population of 13 million largely banned from setting foot outside and having to rely on officials to deliver food and essentials.
The northwestern city, home to the famed Terracotta Army statues, has recently seen a surge of more than 1,700 new cases since December 9.
Despite being only a fraction of those reported around the world as the Omicron variant drives infections to record levels, China has stuck with its policy of total eradication long after most other countries opted to try and live with the virus.
The Xian lockdown, however, comes at a particularly sensitive time, as China prepares to hold the Beijing Winter Olympics, which open February 4.
An official at the city’s disease control authority told state television they have set a target of ‘zero cases in communities’, a situation in which any new infections are only detected among people in isolation.
The policy includes moving all close contacts in hotspot areas to centralised quarantine facilities, according to another virus control expert.
As part of those measures, some 30 buses rolled into the city’s Mingde 8 Yingli neighborhood in the early hours of January 1 and ordered all residents into quarantine, MailOnline reports.
Pictures uploaded to Chinese social media site Weibo showed health officials in full protective gear standing beside the convoy and flanked by police cars.
It was claimed that as many as 1,000 people were taken away.
Photos posted online showed scores of health officials in full PPE
One user posted: ‘There is nothing here, just basic necessities… Nobody has come to check up on us, what kind of quarantine is this?
‘They did a big transfer of us, more than a thousand people, in the night and many of us are elderly people and children. They didn’t make any proper arrangements and so they just carelessly placed us [here].’
Residents were originally allowed to leave the house every two days to shop for basic goods, but the lockdown has since been tightened.
The specific rules vary according to the severity of the outbreak in each district.
In the worst affected areas, people are banned from going out at all and must have goods delivered to them. They can only leave the city with special permission.
Over the past few days, people in Xian could be seen shopping at pop-up markets, served by workers in head-to-toe white protective suits.
Community volunteers also visited homes to ask what they needed.
China has continued with its policy of stamping out all infections (Picture: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Yet the strain is beginning to show, with residents increasingly complaining on Weibo of being unable to source necessities.
One user wrote: ‘Can’t leave the building, and it’s getting more and more difficult to buy food online.’
In a widely shared video, guards could be seen attacking a man who tried to deliver steamed buns to family members.
The guards later apologized to the man and were each fined £24 (200 yuan), according to a Xian police statement posted on Weibo.
China has reported a total of 102,841 cases and 4,636 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
While those numbers are relatively small compared to the US and other countries, and likely undercounts as they are everywhere, they do show the persistence of the virus despite the sometimes draconian measures taken by China.
A third round of mass testing has been ordered for Xian, which is capable of swabbing 10 million people in just seven hours and processing up to three million results in 12, according to state media.
While Wuhan’s health care system was overwhelmed after the pandemic began there in late 2019, China has not reported any shortages of beds or medical equipment and staff in the city.
Two dozen special teams have been formed to deal with Covid-19 cases and a pair of hospitals have been set aside to provide other types of care, Xinhua reported.
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