Lockdown restrictions have been tightened in the Chinese city of Xi’an, which is battling the largest community outbreak the country has seen since the pandemic’s early months, when China brought thousands of infections under control every day.

Authorities reported 162 new community infections on Monday, up from 158 on Sunday. All but 10 of the new cases on Monday were reported in Shaanxi province, where 13 million residents of the capital Xi’an were locked up for five days.

The new number of cases marks the highest number of local symptomatic infections since the daily bulletin provided by the National Health Commission began classifying asymptomatic carriers separately from the end of March 2020. On Saturday, the country recorded the biggest daily increase in local cases in 21 months as infections more than doubled in Xi’an.

A fourth round of mandatory testing days was underway in Xi’an – home to the world-renowned Terracotta Warriors – as hundreds of health workers were deployed to detect new infections in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

The city, a two-hour flight southwest of Beijing, has also launched a disinfection campaign, with workers spraying pathogen-killing solutions on the surfaces of roads and buildings. Residents are advised not to touch the plants after disinfection.

About 3,000 stations have been set up to perform testing on all residents, according to state media. More than 45,000 medical volunteers have also joined forces to curb the spread of the virus, according to the Shaanxi provincial government.

Authorities were investigating 17,527 residents who have been identified as close contacts, while 41,671 people are serving mandatory quarantine at the hotel. State media reported that medical staff at testing centers were suffering from swollen hands after performing hundreds of tests in the cold.

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According to Zhang Yi, director of the Institute for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control of the Shaanxi Provincial Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the main causes of the increase in the number are the increased number of cases detected during testing. mandatory and the spread of new groups to more districts. on Sunday.

Authorities have deployed one security guard for every 10 residents in 283 assigned “closed areas” in the city, where “door-to-door” service is provided and no resident is allowed to leave their homes. Only one person from each household in 229 other “controlled areas” is allowed to leave their home every two days for two hours to purchase basic necessities, according to regulations issued by the Shaanxi authorities.

Authorities on Thursday imposed an instant lockdown on Xi’an residents, suspending transportation to and from the city except in emergencies requiring official approval and mainly confining residents to their homes.

The surge in numbers prompted parts of the city to apply even tighter restrictions on residents on Monday. Residents of the Xi’an National High-Tech Industries Development Zone from Monday morning were only allowed to leave their homes to undergo mandatory tests or receive medical treatment, with only one designated family member being allowed to buy basic necessities once every three days, according to local media.

Chinese medical expert and former National People’s Congress delegate Zhang Boli told CNWest state media on Sunday that he believed it was “entirely possible” that the epidemic was under control from here. at the end of January.

The lockdown is the first time China has implemented such tough measures since 2020, as authorities continue to stubbornly pursue a ‘zero Covid’ approach to eradicate all local infections ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February .