Chinese officials admitted on Wednesday that they were struggling to provide food and other necessities to the confined Xi’an residents, who reported food shortages and sought help on social media.
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The city’s 13 million residents – famous for the burial terracotta army of China’s first emperor – have been delivered to their homes since last Thursday, with the right to go out only once every three days for supplies.
But the containment was tightened on Monday, with many Xi’an residents being ordered to leave their homes only to test for the virus.
On Tuesday, many asked for help on social media, access to food and other necessities, and some said their apartment complex would not let them out.
City officials acknowledged during a press conference on Wednesday that “the lack of staff and logistical and distributive difficulties” had led to disruptions in the supply of residents.
Xi’an official, Qin Jianfeng, told reporters that the local government has mobilized companies to ramp up distributions, with executives overseeing wholesale markets and supermarkets.
“We are doing everything we can to help solve the staff problem and issue vehicle passes that ensure basic necessities are provided,” he said.
However, some still struggle to provide food for themselves. “How do we live? What do we eat?” one user wrote on the Weibo micro-blogging platform. “A few days ago, we could go out once to buy groceries, but that got cancelled… All online grocery apps are either out of delivery or out of delivery range,” he lamented.
The authorities said earlier that supplies remained stable.
Beijing has adopted a “zero COVID” strategy involving strict border restrictions and targeted closures since the virus first emerged in the center of the country in late 2019.
The city of Xi’an has recorded more than 960 cases since December 9, which is low compared to the epidemic outbreak in Europe or the United States, for example, but has led to these strict control measures being taken as part of its “no-COVID policy”.
And local media said that the authorities arrested at least seven people in the city for trying to bypass quarantine, disrupt the system and spread rumours.
The outbreak comes as Beijing prepares to receive thousands of foreign visitors for the Winter Olympics in February.
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