1 month of lockdown lifted in Chinese city, 2 million in Beijing tested



In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, residents line up to get a throat swab for the COVID-19 test at a residential area in Beijing’s Fengtai district on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. Residents of a Beijing district with some 2 million residents was ordered on Sunday to undergo mass coronavirus testing following a spate of infections as China tightened disease controls ahead of the Olympics of winter. (Tang Rufeng/Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities on Monday lifted a month-long lockdown on the northern city of Xi’an and its 13 million people as infections dwindle ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics in less than two weeks.

Meanwhile, all 2million residents of a Beijing district have been ordered to undergo testing following a spate of cases in the capital.

The government has told residents of areas of Beijing deemed to be at high risk of infection not to leave the city after 25 cases were found in Fengtai district and 14 elsewhere.


In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a child receives a throat swab for COVID-19 testing at a residential area in Beijing's Fengtai district on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. Residents of a neighborhood in Beijing population of some 2 million were ordered on Sunday to undergo mass coronavirus testing following a spate of infections as China tightened anti-disease controls ahead of the Winter Olympics.  (Tang Rufeng/Xinhua via AP)

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a child receives a throat swab for COVID-19 testing at a residential area in Beijing’s Fengtai district on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. Residents of a neighborhood in Beijing population of some 2 million were ordered on Sunday to undergo mass coronavirus testing following a spate of infections as China tightened anti-disease controls ahead of the Winter Olympics. (Tang Rufeng/Xinhua via AP)

Fengtai residents lined the snowy sidewalks in freezing weather for the tests.

The Olympics are held under strict controls designed to isolate athletes, staff, journalists and officials from the residents. Athletes must be vaccinated or subject to quarantine after arriving in China.

The announcement by the Xi’an government on Monday follows the restarting of commercial flights from the city the previous day. The main industrial center and former imperial capital, famous for being home to the Terracotta Warrior Statue army, had struggled to feed residents and keep the local economy alive while people were confined to their homes.

Xi’an has been the cornerstone of the ruling Communist Party’s “zero tolerance” strategy toward COVID-19, which imposes lockdowns, travel restrictions and mass testing whenever a case is discovered.

Xi’an is about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southwest of Beijing, where the Olympics will open on February 4.

Access to Xi’an was suspended on December 22 following an outbreak attributed to the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Other outbreaks prompted the government to impose travel bans on a number of cities, including the port of Tianjin, about an hour from Beijing. Strict regulations are credited with preventing major nationwide outbreaks, and China has reported relatively few cases of the highly infectious omicron variant.

China reported only 18 new local infection cases on Monday, including six in Beijing. The country currently has 2,754 cases of infection and has reported a total of 105,660 COVID-19 cases with 4,636 deaths.

Despite falling case numbers, pandemic checks have been stepped up ahead of the Olympics, where all participants must be tested before and after arriving in Beijing.

Organizers said on Monday that 39 of the 2,586 athletes, team officials and others who arrived after Jan. 4 tested positive for the virus when they landed at Beijing airport. Another 33 people who had already entered the bubble isolating participants from the general public later tested positive, the organizing committee said on its website.

The statement did not identify those who tested positive except to say they were “external stakeholders”, a term that excludes athletes or coaches. provided they have tested negative for the virus.

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