Coronavirus: China removes two officials from Xi'an

The two officials had been removed in a bid to "strengthen the work of epidemic prevention and control" in the area. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - New coronavirus cases in China's locked-down city of Xi'an edged down Monday (Jan 3), official data showed, while local authorities removed two senior officials to "strengthen" their fight against Covid-19.

Beijing has pursued a "zero Covid" approach with tight border restrictions and targeted lockdowns since the virus first emerged, but this strategy has come under pressure with recent local outbreaks.

The north-western city of Xi'an, home to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, has become the latest epicentre with authorities ordering all 13 million residents to stay home and several rounds of mass testing in recent weeks.

Xi'an reported 90 new local virus cases on Monday, down from 122 cases a day before. Since Dec 9, there have been more than 1,600 virus cases reported in the city.

"We have entered a general state of attack," said provincial official Liu Guozhong according to an official notice, adding that it was necessary to achieve the goal of clearing society of coronavirus cases as soon as possible.

On Sunday, Xi'an announced that two senior Communist Party officials from the Yanta district had been removed from their posts, according to local media, in a bid to "strengthen the work of epidemic prevention and control" in the area.

Last month, China's disciplinary body announced that dozens of officials were punished for "insufficient rigour in preventing and controlling the outbreak".

Local residents told media in recent days that they were struggling to find enough food, despite Chinese authorities insisting they were working to ensure stable supplies.

On Monday, Xi’an officials told reporters that resources had been urgently transported from neighbouring areas.

“Yanta district is an area with a large population, and there remains a gap between our work and the needs of the people,” said local official Lu Dongguo.

Although China’s reported coronavirus cases are low compared with elsewhere, new infections in recent days have reached a high not seen in the country since March 2020.

The spike comes as Beijing prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February.

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