Month-long pandemic lockdown lifted on China’s Xi’an | world news

BEIJING (AP) — Authorities have lifted a month-long pandemic lockdown on the northern Chinese city of Xi’an and its 13 million people.

Monday’s announcement followed the restart of commercial flights from the city the previous day.

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 Winter Olympics will open on February 4.

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

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Meanwhile, all 2million residents of a Beijing district have been ordered to undergo testing following a spate of infections.

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

On Sunday, residents of Fengtai lined the snowy sidewalks in freezing weather for the tests.

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

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.

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