Chinese authorities reported 175 new community infections on Tuesday after a snap lockdown was issued in the city of Xi’an. The 13 million residents of the city are mandated to stay in their homes, with only one household member allowed to leave every second day to buy groceries.
Meanwhile, travel to and from the city has been banned except in special circumstances requiring official approval.
With over a month left before China is set to host the Winter Olympics, this sudden rise in cases is threatening Beijing’s Covid strategy.
In a press conference on Thursday, an official admitted that the Beijing Winter Olympics could bring “COVID-19 cases or small clusters of infections” as “a large number of overseas personnel will gather, causing a very high risk of transmission,”
The Deputy Director of Epidemic Prevention and Control Office of Beijing Winter Olympic Organizing Committee, Huang Chun stated that during the Olympics, Covid infected staff and athletes would not be able to compete or work and will be sent to a designated hospital or isolation facility depending on whether the patient has symptoms or not.
The Chinese government is still determinedly pursuing the “Zero Covid” strategy that has severely impacted travel to the country and global trade.
This comes amidst disappointing data on the efficacy of China’s Sinovac vaccine, which WHO says has an efficacy of around 50 percent.
Furthermore, it seems that a booster shot from the Sinovac vaccine does not work against the much more contagious Omicron variant.
Many are sceptical about the data on coronavirus in China, as the country has issued a ban on public communication on the coronavirus except with prior authorization by the government, according to leaked internal documents.
READ MORE:China erupts as Japan becomes latest to pull officials from Olympics
Meanwhile, the UK has a rolling average of over 108,000 coronavirus cases, with no lockdown restrictions announced.
On Tuesday, the southern city of Dongxing ordered its 200,000 residents to isolate after an infection was detected.
In October, hundreds of flights and train journeys have been cancelled, schools closed and mass testing reintroduced in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.
With home testing in China not permitted, government controls have taken place in order to obtain a clear and accurate picture of where the virus originated in the latest outbreak – and where it is heading.