BEIJING, China — Authorities have lifted a monthlong pandemic lockdown on the northern Chinese city of Xi’an and its 13 million residents. The announcement Monday followed the restart of commercial flights from the city the day before.
Xi’an has been a cornerstone of the ruling Communist Party’s “zero tolerance” strategy toward COVID-19 that mandates lockdowns, travel restrictions and mass testing whenever a case is discovered.
Xi’an is about 600 miles southwest of Beijing, where the Winter Olympics open Feb. 4. Access to the city was suspended Dec. 22 following an outbreak attributed to the delta variant of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the 2 million residents of one Beijing district have been ordered to undergo testing following a series of infections.
The government told people in areas of the Chinese capital deemed at high risk for infection not to leave the city after 25 cases were found in the Fengtai district and 14 elsewhere.
On Sunday, Fengtai residents lined up on snow-covered sidewalks in freezing weather for testing.
The Olympics are being held under strict controls that are meant to isolate athletes, staff, reporters and officials from the outside world. Athletes are required to be vaccinated or undergo a quarantine after arriving in China.
Other outbreaks prompted the government to impose travel bans on a number of cities, including the port of Tianjin, about an hour from Beijing. The stiff regulations are credited with preventing major nationwide outbreaks and China has reported relatively few cases of the highly infectious omicron variant.
China on Monday reported just 18 new cases of local infection, including six in Beijing. The country has 2,754 current cases of infection and has reported a total of 105,660 cases of COVID-19 with 4,636 deaths.