China Punishes People Trying to Flee Covid Controls in Xi’an
(Bloomberg) -- China is punishing people trying to evade its latest Covid lockdown in Xi’an as a top official urged “forceful moves” be taken to curb the outbreak in the central city with a population of 13 million.
Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said local authorities need to adopt more “targeted and forceful” measures and improve quarantine controls, the official Xinhua News Agency said late Thursday. China reported 166 local confirmed cases for that day, 161 of them in the city.
The situation in Xi’an is severe and complex, Sun was cited as saying during a visit. Sun, the only woman on the ruling Communist Party’s 25-member Politburo, also called on the government to step up tracing efforts.
Local police have had to track down people attempting to duck the tight controls. One man who tried to wade across the Wei River to get out of town was given a warning, according to the government, while police said another who pedaled 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) on a shared bicycle to his hometown was fined and sent to quarantine.
A man who hiked 100 kilometers from the airport to a nearby county was also sent to quarantine by police and handed an unspecified punishment.
China locked down Xi’an on Dec. 23 -- its most dramatic move since the pandemic started in Wuhan nearly two years ago and a sign the leaders of the world’s No. 2 economy are sticking to their zero-tolerance approach to Covid. The emerging tech hub famous for its 2,200-year-old terracotta warriors has asked people to remain indoors, banned driving and limited entry from other parts of the nation. Six rounds of city-wide Covid testing have been conducted, with the latest covering 9 million people so far, according to the government.
Residents had trouble buying groceries earlier this week, Beijing-based Caixin Global reported, citing locals. State media including the Global Times later said the situation had eased as officials stepped up distribution of household supplies.
Tech companies Micron Technology Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. have said that production at factories in the city has been affected under the lockdown.
Micron, a chipmaker, said it will be able to meet most of its customer demand but new supply arrangements may cause delays. It added that it is taking “appropriate measures” to minimize the risk of the virus at its plant, including on-site testing, physical distancing and temporarily reducing the “workforce density.”
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