Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, extended a lockdown in most of its districts on Thursday, hoping to stem further transmission of COVID-19 cases in the city of 21.2 million people.
The mega city, which has most recently battled with heat waves, power cuts and an earthquake, was locked down on Sept. 1 after detecting a number of cases, becoming the largest Chinese metropolis to be slapped with the curbs since Shanghai earlier this year. Since then, Chengdu has been reporting largely under 200 new locally transmitted infections per day, a small number compared to outbreaks in other parts of the world. It found 116 new cases for Sept. 7 versus 121 a day earlier, according to local authorities on Thursday.
The lockdown was expected to be lifted on Sept. 7, but local government officials said late on Wednesday that there are still risks of the virus’s spread in some areas. Sixteen districts, cities, counties and special zones out of the 23 under Chengdu’s jurisdiction remain under lockdown, the authorities said.
Residents in areas under lockdown will be tested every day and those who test positive will be quarantined. Residents in areas deemed high-risk are forbidden from stepping out of their homes. Chengdu aims to achieve zero new community infections citywide within one week, the city’s COVID-19 prevention and control command said in a statement.
A handful of districts were released from a full lockdown, but residents still have to undergo mass testing on Friday and Sunday. Also, residents in districts no longer under a full lockdown are barred from going to other districts and are discouraged from leaving Chengdu for non-essential reasons.
The policies will be “dynamically adjusted according to the development of the epidemic,” the statement said. China has been battling to contain the highly transmissible Omicron variant, imposing various degrees of lockdowns in cities to stop its spread.
Shanghai was locked down in April and May. Other big cities that had suffered from lockdowns and restrictions include Xian and Shenzhen. The flare-ups in recent months come in a year when President Xi Jinping is widely expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term as China’s leader at a once-in-five-years congress of the ruling Communist Party in mid-October.
In the run-up to the congress and also to the week-long National Day holidays at the start of October, more and more cities have been urging residents to refrain from non-essential trips out of town in view of the COVID outbreaks, which have been reported in every region and province in recent weeks. Nationwide, China found 1,439 new infections on Sept. 7, the National Health Commission said on Thursday. There were no new fatalities, the same as a day earlier, keeping the nation’s death toll unchanged at 5,226.
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