Videos shared on Chinese social media sites show hundreds of people in the northwestern city of Xi’an standing in the cold to get tested for COVID-19. Other footage shows residential entryways lined with barbed wire. According to locals, schools, kindergartens and out-of-school training institutions have been closed since Dec. 20. People who need to work are required to provide proof of a negative nucleic acid test within 48 hours.
Local residents said the main roads out of Xi’an have been closed. People from inside the city can’t get out and people from outside can’t get in. On Dec. 23, Chinese authorities began imposing strict lockdown measures on Xi’an’s estimated 13 million residents.
The sweeping restrictions, which prevent people from leaving their homes, come as the country braces for Chinese New Year’s travel rush, followed by the 2022 Winter Olympics, due to begin in Beijing on February 4.
As of Dec. 20, Xi’an’s pharmacies also suspended selling medicines to the public.
A local in Xi’an told Daijiyuan, the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times, that the medical system has been very hard hit. Many hospitals, including the Aerospace Hospital and the Jiaoda First Affiliated Hospital, have been closed.
According to a Xi’an resident’s post on Twitter, authorities in the city of Xi’an have now designated the region a “controlled area,” China’s second-highest category of lockdown — this means residents are barred from leaving their homes except for urgent cases like medical emergencies.
The post in Chinese reads: “about 90 communities in the city of Xi’an will be locked-down tomorrow: Dec. 23. Residents will be required to stay in their homes and will not be allowed to leave the city by train without official documents authorizing them to travel. In addition, only one designated person per household will be allowed to leave the house every two days to buy groceries and supplies for the family.”
According to a video posted on Twitter, the big iron gate of Xi’an’s “West Bali Village” residential community was sealed shut with an electric welder.
According to Dajiyuan, local netizens complained about seemingly endless lines for the COVID tests. “The mass testing of nucleic acid is not only a waste of resources but also a risk of infection,” one resident remarked.
“The management of COVID-19 prevention and control in Xi’an is really chaotic, with random lock-downs and re-openings. I really experienced what a no-efficiency and backward society could be. It’s like living in a heavy disaster-hit area,” another resident said.
It was also reported that as of Dec. 21, local netizens can be seen standing for over five hours in the cold to get tested at the Xi’an Hangtian Star River Park. Sometimes they stand in line for hours only to be told that the testing system had collapsed and no further tests could be completed.
One collection site was informed that the samples collected were invalid and needed to be re-collected because the system had collapsed.
Although many communities in Xi’an are locked down, according to the official website for the National Health Commission of China, as of Dec. 22, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Xi’an was only 52. The total reported cases in China is now 57.
Because of doubts about the authenticity of official news from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), netizens have begun speculating that the real reason for Xi’an’s city-wide lockdown could be due to an outbreak of “hemorrhagic fever“.
One resident’s Twitter post read, “Xi’an, a city with a 95 percent vaccination rate, is about to be locked down. It may not be due to COVID-19, but a vaccine-induced hemorrhagic fever.”
The ambiguity has residents scrambling in panic as no further information has been released by Chinese authorities.