China Locks Down 21 Million in Chengdu in COVID-19 Outbreak

BEIJING — Chinese authorities have locked down Chengdu, a southwestern city of 21 million people, following a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Residents were asked to remain at home and around 70% of flights to the city have been cancelled. The city is Sichuan’s major transit hub and an economic and government center.

Although the start of the school year has been delayed due to weather, public transportation continues to be available and residents are allowed to leave the city for special reasons.

The rules that were announced Thursday allow only one family member to purchase essentials if they can prove that they are not infected by a virus within 24 hours.

Learn More The Rising Costs of China’s Zero-COVID Policy

It was not clear when the lockdown would end.

Similar actions have led to millions being confined in their homes in Dalian (northern China), and Shijiazhuang (the capital of Hebei Province that borders Beijing).

Chengdu has reported around 1,000 cases in the latest outbreak and no deaths from the latest round of domestic transmission, but the extreme measures reflect China’s rigid adherence to its “zero-COVID” policy that has exacted a major toll on the economy, with lockdowns, business closures and mass testing requirements.

China believes the measures necessary to control the spread of this virus are needed. The virus was detected for the first time in Wuhan (central China) in late 2019. The fear of being caught in a lockdown situation or sent to a quarantine facility for even being in proximity with a person who tested positive has severely constrained people’s work, consumption and travel habits.

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