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China is punishing people trying to evade its latest Covid-19 lockdown in Xi’an as a top official urged “forceful moves” to curb the outbreak in the central city of 13-million people.
Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said local authorities need to adopt more “targeted and forceful” measures and improve quarantine controls, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late on 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, she was cited as saying during a visit. Sun, the only woman on the ruling Communist Party’s 25-member Politburo, also urged 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 peddled 80km on a shared bicycle to his hometown was fined and sent to quarantine.
A man who hiked 100km 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 December 23 — its most dramatic move since the pandemic started in Wuhan and a sign the leaders of the world’s No. 2 economy are sticking to their zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19. The city, an emerging tech hub famous for its 2,200-year-old terracotta warriors, has carried out several rounds of mass virus testing, asked people to remain indoors, banned driving and limited entry from other parts of the nation.
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 has eased as local officials stepped up distribution of household supplies.
Tech companies Micron Technology and Samsung 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 minimise the risk of the virus at its plant, including on-site testing, physical distancing and temporarily reducing the “workforce density.”
Bloomberg. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.