(by Zoe Strozewski | Newsweek) – In the Chinese city of Xi’an, a stringent COVID-19 lockdown that largely forbids residents from leaving their homes has left some struggling to purchase food, even as authorities promised to provide groceries and supplies for the 13 million people.
Xi’an’s lockdown is the strictest in China since the one imposed in Wuhan after the initial detection of the virus.
The measure originally allowed residents to leave their homes once every two days to purchase groceries, but authorities tightened the rules. Though the harshness of the guidelines reflects the severity of the surge in each Xi’an district, some barred from leaving their homes altogether must now rely on grocery deliveries.
“Can’t leave the building, and it’s getting more and more difficult to buy food online,” said one Xi’an resident who posted on the social media platform Weibo under the name Mu Qingyuani Sayno. The person, who posted from a verified account, did not respond to a request from the Associated Press for further comment.
Zhang Canyou, an expert from the State Council’s epidemic prevention and control team, admitted that “there may be supply pressure in communities.” But the official Xinhua news agency also quoted Canyou as saying that the “government will go all-out to coordinate resources to provide people with daily necessities and medical services.”
Stringent measures to stem outbreaks are common in China, which still maintains a policy of stamping out every COVID-19 case long after many other countries have opted to try to live with the virus.
On Tuesday, authorities announced that another city, Yuzhou in Henan province, was placed under lockdown over the weekend after the discovery of just three asymptomatic cases.
The Chinese have largely complied with the tough measures throughout the pandemic, but complaints have cropped up over tough policies, despite the risk of retaliation from Communist authorities. The Xi’an lockdown, however, comes at a particularly sensitive time, as China prepares to hold the Beijing Winter Olympics, which open February 4, and therefore is under especially intense pressure to contain this outbreak.
People can only leave the city with special permission.
In recent days, people in Xi’an could be seen shopping at pop-up markets, served by workers in head-to-toe white protective suits. Community volunteers also visited people’s homes to ask what they needed.
Yet the strain is beginning to show, with residents increasingly complaining on Weibo of being unable to source necessities. In one widely shared video, guards could be seen attacking a man who had tried to deliver steamed buns to family members. The guards later apologized to the man and were each fined 200 yuan ($31), according to a Xi’an police statement posted on Weibo.
In an online diary on the popular Weixin site, a Xi’an-based writer said that following an initial wave of panic-buying and the closure of markets, residents soon began searching for food online.
“In this age of material surplus, when everyone is trying to lose weight, finding enough to eat has suddenly become a difficult task,” Jiang Xue wrote. A message sent to the account was not immediately returned.
China’s “zero tolerance” strategy of quarantining every case, mass testing and trying to block new infections from abroad helped it to contain previous outbreaks. But the lockdowns are far more stringent than anything seen in the West, and they have exacted a tremendous toll on the economy and the lives of millions of people. Read Full Article >