Three days after imposing a lockdown on 13 million residents, the city of Xi'an, China, has further tightened its restrictions on Sunday, Dec. 26, AFP reported.
Currently, only one member from each household is allowed to go out and buy basic necessities once every three days, down from two days under previous policies.
All businesses, except supermarkets, convenience stores and medical facilities, have been ordered to close.
Travel to and fro the city has also been suspended since Dec. 23, except for emergencies that require official approval, The Guardian reported.
The Chinese government has consistently pursued a "zero-Covid" strategy, with tight border restrictions, targeted lockdowns, and lengthy quarantine periods.
Highest number of cases since March, 2020
The tightening of restrictions come as China detected 206 local cases of Covid-19 infections on Dec. 25 -- its highest number of daily cases since March, 2020.
Home to the Terracotta Warriors, Xi'an accounted for 155 cases, more than double the figures recorded one day earlier, Reuters reported.
From Dec. 9 to Dec, 26, the city has reported 635 local cases, though the Omicron variant was not detected among the infected.
According to Chinese state-owned media China Daily, the city launched a disinfecting campaign on the evening of Dec. 26. Three rounds of mass testings had also been carried out, with additional rounds expected to take place.
A city official said about 29,000 people have been quarantined in hotels, AFP reported.
According to Reuters, China has reported a total of 101,277 cases of Covid-19 infections and 4,636 deaths as of Dec. 26.
Officials in Xi'an punished
Meanwhile, China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said on Dec. 24 that 26 officials in Xi'an had been punished for the mishandling of the city's Covid-19 situation, AFP reported.
The disciplinary body said inspections had revealed that there had been a lax approach to testing and an uncoordinated response that hindered contact tracing in Xi'an.
Cases from the city have reportedly spread to five other cities in the country, including Beijing.
However, Reuters reported that their punishment was not specified.
Preparing for Winter Olympics in February
China is currently preparing for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics, which will take place in Beijing from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20.
According to Reuters, the country has restricted international arrivals, with participants of the Winter Olympics kept to a strictly-enforced "closed-loop".
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