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China holds 21 million people in Chengdu as COVID-19 cases rise

The giant city of Chengdu recorded 157 new local infections on Thursday, becoming the largest since Shanghai was closed by the authorities.

Chinese authorities have locked down the southwestern city of Chengdu, with a population of 21 million, after a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Images of empty supermarket shelves and Chengdu residents scrambling for groceries circulated on social media with the order given just six hours before it went into effect.

China is the last major economy committed to a zero-coronavirus policy, working to stem virus outbreaks through sudden shutdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines.

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Chengdu, in the southwest, became the latest city to announce a lockdown, saying in an official notice that residents should “in principle stay at home” from 6 p.m. (10:00 GMT) on Thursday to combat a new wave of infections.

Each household will be allowed to send one person to buy groceries and essential goods per day, provided they have tested negative for the past 24 hours, she said.

All residents will be tested for the virus by Sunday, and she urged them to only leave the city “if absolutely necessary”.

“The current situation of epidemic control is abnormal, complex and dismal,” the announcement said, adding that the measures aimed at “decisively stopping the spread of the disease outbreak and ensuring the health of all citizens.”

The Chengdu city government said in a separate notice that the city of Chengdu recorded 157 new local infections on Thursday, of which 51 were asymptomatic.

This aerial photo taken on September 1, 2022, shows nearly empty roads amid restrictions due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, southwest China.  (Photo by CNS/AFP) / China OUT
Major roads were almost empty during the closure following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Chengdu, southwest China [AFP]

Children in at least 10 cities and provinces across China are facing turmoil in their new school year as pandemic controls force schools to switch to online learning, according to a report in state media.

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Xining, the capital of western Qinghai Province and home to 2.5 million people, has launched a mass testing campaign and asked residents in its main metropolitan area to work from home for three days.

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China has stuck to a zero-tolerance strategy for the virus despite concern that the approach is stifling its economy.

Last month, travelers protested in the southern island province of Hainan after more than 80,000 tourists were stranded at a resort due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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