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China : Chengdu locks down 21.2 million as cities battl …

Beijing : The southwestern Chinese metropolis of Chengdu announced a lockdown of its 21.2 million residents as it launched four days of citywide COVID-19 testing, as some of the country’s most populous and economically important cities battle outbreaks.


The city government announced in a statement that residents of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, were ordered to stay indoors as of Thursday at 6 p.m. Households were permitted to send one person per day to shop for supplies.


It said that all residents would be tested for the virus between Thursday and Sunday, and urged them not to leave the city unless “absolutely necessary.”


“The current state of epidemic control is abnormal, complex and grim,” the announcement said, adding that the measures aimed to “decisively arrest the spread of the outbreak and guarantee the health of all citizens”.


According to media reports, Chengdu, which reported 157 domestically transmitted infections on Wednesday, is the largest Chinese city to be locked down since Shanghai in April and May. It remained unclear whether the lockdown would be lifted after the mass testing ends on Sunday.


This week, COVID restrictions have been tightened in several other major cities, including Shenzhen in the south and Dalian in the northeast. These restrictions ranging from work-from-home requirements to the closure of entertainment businesses in some districts.


Significantly, China is the last major economy wedded to a zero-Covid policy, stamping out virus flare-ups with snap shutdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines.


According to a report on Thursday by a media outlet, children in at least 10 cities and provinces are facing disruption to the new academic year as pandemic controls force schools to switch to measures like online learning.


A mass testing initiative has been initiated in Xining, the capital of western Qinghai province and home to 2.5 million people. Additionally, the city’s main urban area’s citizens have been instructed to take three days off work.