China’s northwestern city of Xi’an, home to 13 million people, was partially locked down on Wednesday after it reported the country’s first outbreak of a highly transmissible new omicron subvariant that rapidly spread to the United States and Europe. Used to be. dominates.
According to local disease control officials, the city recorded 18 Covid infections from Saturday to Monday, all belonging to the Omicron ba.5.2 subvariant.
BA.5.2 is a sub-lineage of BA.5, which is already dominant in the US and has been found to increase in people already infected with COVID-19 and both fully vaccinated and advanced, according to the researchers. , The antibody appears to evade the reactions.
This is the first time the subvariant has been reported in China, one of the last places in the world still adhering to a stringent zero-Covid policy.
On Tuesday, Xi’an authorities announced sweeping restrictions that would lock down parts of the city for seven days starting Wednesday.
Entertainment, sporting and cultural venues, including bars, cinemas, gyms, libraries and museums, were closed; From weddings to conventions, dining in restaurants and large gatherings were suspended; City official Zhang Xuedong said at a news conference on Tuesday that all places of worship had been closed and religious activities were banned.
According to Zhang, kindergartens and primary and secondary schools were ordered to start the summer holidays early, while universities were asked to seal their campuses.
Officials also closed nine residential neighborhoods classified as “high-risk areas”, banning residents from leaving their communities.
“The seven-day temporary containment measures are to make society as quiet as possible, reduce mobility and reduce the risk of infection,” Zhang said.
The announcement caused a stir among some Xi’an residents, many of whom recalled the chaos of the city’s month-long strict lockdown between December and January.
During that citywide lockdown, a constant stream of complaints about food shortages, as well as heartbreaking scenes of critical patients – including heavily pregnant women – being denied medical care shook the country. And got angry.
On Tuesday night, photos and videos posted by Xi’an residents on social media showed huge crowds of passengers – many carrying large bags and suitcases – outside the train station, rushing to leave the city.