Last week I wrote about the relatively small outbreak in China that led to the complete lockdown of a city of 13 million people. Apparently the cases that occurred in Xi’an all involved the delta variant but for some reason China seems to be struggling a bit to get this outbreak under control. There are multiple reports today that as the number of cases continues to climb, some residents are now worried about running out of food.
Xi’an rolled out city-wide testing and placed its 13 million residents under a strict lockdown last week, closing schools, public venues and transportation except essential services like supermarkets and hospitals. Residents were banned from leaving their homes except for urgent reasons such as medical emergencies…
As cases continued to surge, Xi’an further tightened lockdown measures on Monday, requiring all residents to stay at home unless permitted to go outside for mass testing. Previously, each household was allowed to send one designated person out to buy groceries every two days.
On Chinese social media platform Weibo, some Xi’an residents complained Tuesday they were running out of groceries at home.
“Can anyone save me?” a user asked. “I’m about to starve at home. There was no one taking my orders online … Please help me. It’s OK if it’s expensive, I just want to have some groceries. I’m desperate.”
Reuters reports on a similar complaint:
“It feels like a long time,” said a 22-year-old resident surnamed Jin.
“The fact that I haven’t yet been told when I could shop again makes me a bit anxious,” Jin, who ran out of fresh greens by Tuesday and couldn’t make orders online without waiting for nearly a week before delivery, told Reuters.
Of course it’s possible that China is simply not telling the truth about the nature of this outbreak but if it’s true that this has all been caused by the delta variant, it seems unlikely the country is prepared for the much faster spread of Omicron when it finally hits.
CNN Business reports that China’s zero-Covid approach has already caused at least one airline to refuse to land in Shanghai. Delta turned around a flight that left from Seattle after deciding that meeting the lengthy cleaning regimen imposed in China would be unworkable.
If it had landed in Shanghai, Delta said the new rules would have caused substantial delays.
“The new cleaning procedures require significantly extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta,” a spokesperson said of the December 21 flight. Details of the new cleaning rules remain unclear.
China issued a statement denying responsibility for the problem but Fortune reports that the airports with the highest number of flight cancellations in the world have been Chinese airports:
Chinese airports like Beijing Capital International Airport, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, and Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport were among those seeing the most flight cancellations worldwide, overtaking Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Tuesday. Chinese airlines like China Eastern, Air China, and Shenzhen Airlines have canceled hundreds of flights among them.
China’s flight disruptions are not caused by Omicron but, in fact, by an outbreak of the older Delta variant.
China is ostensibly doing all of this in advance of the start of the 2022 Olympics in February. We’ll have to wait and see if they can maintain this zero-COVID policy once there are hundreds of athletes, trainers, etc. streaming into the country from around the world.