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13 million Chinese confined as the Games draw near

13 million Chinese confined as the Games draw near

Less than six weeks before the start of the Winter Olympics, China is trying to stop the spread of new pollution in the country.

The 13 million inhabitants of a city in northern China began home confinement on Thursday, authorities wanted to contain a Covid-19 epidemic six weeks before the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Known around the world for its army buried in terracotta, Xi’an had already imposed travel restrictions in recent days after the discovery of hundreds of cases.

China has successfully stopped the epidemic on its soil since mid-2020 thanks to lengthy mandatory quarantines on arrival, selective closures, mass controls, mobile travel-tracking apps and drastically limiting international flights.

As the Winter Olympics approach (February 4-20, 2022), authorities are doing everything they can to prevent further pollution in the country. But sporadic outbreaks have occurred regularly in recent weeks.

Xi’an reported 63 new patients on Thursday, a few days after the start of mass screening of all residents. The Delta strain is involved.

This outbreak in Xi’an has led to cases in other parts of the country, including one in Beijing (north) and the other in Guangdong province (south), showing how quickly the virus is spreading.

Since midnight on Thursday, each household can only send one of its members abroad, once every two days, to buy basic necessities, the city council said.

In addition, the inhabitants “should not leave the city, except in case of need,” he stressed, specifying that people who wish to travel anyway must request an authorization.

All non-essential businesses are also closed.

The museum that houses the buried terracotta army, more than 2,000 years old and housed in the mausoleum of China’s first emperor, has announced its temporary closure.

China has had a “zero Covid” strategy since last year, which consists of doing everything possible to limit the appearance of new cases as much as possible. These generally swell only a few dozen per day.

A single case can lead to massive reviews or crashes. The guilty politicians were also removed from their positions.

” Very high “

China has tightened already very strict measures in anticipation of the arrival of thousands of foreign athletes to the Olympic Games. The capital Beijing now requires negative Covid testing for all visitors and limits flights from other cities.

Participants in the Games must have received at least two doses of vaccine and remain in a “bubble” of health, that is, an area isolated from the rest of the population. They will undergo daily tests for coronavirus.

Chinese authorities have urged athletes to receive a booster dose due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant around the world. They warned of the “certain” possibility of infections within the bubble.

“A small-scale outbreak of contamination is possible,” Huang Chun, deputy director of the office responsible for controlling the epidemic during the Games, said Thursday.

“There is a very high risk of transmission” due to the large number of participants, he said.

Asymptomatic patients will be quarantined on the spot, while patients will be sent to specific hospitals in Beijing or Zhangjiakou, the other host city of the Olympics, Huang Chun said.