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Xi’an reaches ‘turning point’ in battle against COVID-19

Separate outbreak in Henan province has expanded to six cities since Dec 31

A medical worker takes a sample from an infant for a nucleic acid test in Xuchang, Henan province, on Thursday. (NIU SHUPEI / FOR CHINA DAILY)

The COVID-19 outbreak in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, has reached a turning point, with confirmed cases continuing to decrease, said renowned Chinese respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan.

Stringent control measures adopted in Xi'an have proven effective, he told China Central Television on Thursday, noting that the confirmed cases had dropped significantly to 63 on Wednesday from a peak of 172.

All the cases reported by Shaanxi on Wednesday were in its capital, with all found among people under quarantine, the provincial health commission reported.

As of Wednesday, Xi'an has reported a total of 1,856 confirmed cases in the latest outbreak that started on Dec 9, with 72 having been cured and discharged from hospitals, said Liu Shunzhi, director of the city's health commission.

"We are launching a general offensive in the city's epidemic prevention and control work," said Kong Hong, deputy director of the city's civil affairs bureau. "Urban villages have become the key point of the work."

The city has sent teams with over 6,700 members, including officials and volunteers, to participate in front-line prevention and control work in urban villages.

Separately, in Henan province, a recent local outbreak of COVID-19 has expanded to six cities since the first two asymptomatic carriers in Luoyang were reported on Dec 31.

Henan reported 64 new locally transmitted confirmed cases on Wednesday, along with nine asymptomatic carriers, the provincial health commission reported.

Of the confirmed cases, five were found in the capital Zhengzhou, four in Luoyang, 50 in Xuchang, three in Zhoukou and one each in Xinyang and Shangqiu. Of the asymptomatic carriers, eight were in Zhengzhou and one was in Xinyang.

The coronavirus risk levels of five areas in Yuzhou, a county-level city under the administration of Xuchang, were classified as high on Thursday, the city's epidemic prevention and control headquarters said.

As of Thursday, a total of 55 confirmed cases and three asymptomatic carriers have been reported in Yuzhou, the hardest-hit region in the Henan outbreak, officials said.

Yuzhou completed the second round of testing covering around 969,000 residents by Wednesday, Xuchang Daily reported.

All residential communities and villages in Yuzhou have been strictly managed in lockdown mode, local officials said. Bus and rail services have been stopped, schools have been suspended, and public venues such as educational institutions, entertainment facilities and private clinics have also halted services. Shopping malls are only open for daily necessities and supplies.

Travel agencies must suspend cross-provincial tours and cross-provincial bookings of hotels and air tickets, according to a statement released by the Henan Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism on Wednesday.

Contact the writers at zhouhuiying@chinadaily.com.cn