Xi’an and Yuzhou are both battling the delta variant and neither has reported any omicron cases.
More than 2,000 people have been infected in Xi’an in China’s largest outbreak since the initial one in Wuhan. The ancient capital is a popular tourist stop that is home to the Terracotta Warriors ruins and also a Samsung computer chip factory.
According to AP, a third Chinese city has locked down its residents because of a COVID-19 outbreak, raising the number confined to their homes in China to about 20 million people.
The lockdown of Anyang, home to 5.5 million people, was announced late Monday after two cases of the omicron variant were reported. Residents are not allowed to go out and stores have been ordered shut except those selling necessities.
Another 13 million people have been locked down in Xi’an for nearly three weeks, and 1.1 million more in Yuzhou for more than a week. It wasn’t clear how long the lockdown of Anyang would last, as it was announced as a measure to facilitate mass testing of residents, which is standard procedure in China’s strategy of identifying and isolating infected people as quickly as possible.
The lockdowns are the broadest since the shutting down of Wuhan and most of the rest of Hubei province in early 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Since then, China’s approach has evolved into one of targeting smaller areas hit by outbreaks for lockdowns.
The approach of the Winter Olympics, which open Feb. 4 in Beijing, and the emergence of omicron have brought back citywide lockdowns in a bid to snuff out outbreaks and prevent them from spreading to other parts of China.
A Beijing Olympics official responsible for disease control, Huang Chun, said organizers are counting on the cooperation of athletes and officials to prevent an outbreak that could affect participation.