CORONAVIRUS – The return of bad memories. A few weeks before the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the Chinese authorities have decided to confine this Wednesday, December 22 the city of Xi’an (north), known for its army buried in terracotta, and its 13 million inhabitants , due to a rebound of the Covid-19.

Travel there had already been considerably restricted since Wednesday to contain a source of contamination. Now, residents must “stay at home unless there is a compelling reason,” local authorities said in a statement. One person per household is allowed to shop “every two days”.

To prevent further spread of the virus, residents of Xi’an had since Wednesday morning needed a permit to take the train and leave the city, state television CCTV reported ahead of the lockdown announcement.

In the air, more than 85% of flights to and from Xi’an have been canceled, according to specialist site VariFlight.

In Xi’an, 52 new patients were counted on Wednesday, bringing the number of patients identified in the city to 143 since December 9. The city, which began screening its entire population on Tuesday, had previously urged residents to avoid going out and congregating in large groups.

About 90 residential neighborhoods are also under confinement, but the number of people affected is not known.

China has been pursuing a “zero Covid” strategy for the past year, which consists of doing everything to limit as much as possible the occurrence of new cases, generally limited to only a few dozen per day.

The country has virtually eradicated the epidemic on its soil since the spring of 2020 thanks to long mandatory quarantines on arrival, targeted lockdowns, massive screenings, mobile travel tracking applications and drastic restrictions on international flights. However, it continues to regularly face small sporadic outbreaks, usually contained within a few weeks.

If the number of cases in China is extremely low compared to other countries, the authorities do not want to leave anything to chance before the Winter Olympics (February 4 to 20, 2022) and the major lunar New Year shifts (February 1 ). Already in October, the country imposed a lockdown in Lanzhou (northwest) for its 4 million inhabitants.

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