A Chinese city has backed the return of extreme lockdowns including the forced closure of schools and businesses to contain outbreaks of the common flu virus.
The Chinese city of Xi’an, home to some 13 million people, has revealed plans to enforce lockdowns again – but not for Covid. Instead, the mega-city has backed the use of lockdowns and school and business closures as part of a plan to contain influenza outbreaks. The plans have already triggered a backlash on Chinese social media, with many terrified about the prospect of returning to the strict restrictions seen during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The emergency response plan for the city published Wednesday allows city officials to enforce lockdowns “when necessary” if an outbreak of the common flu virus poses a “serious threat”.
Following the publication, officials said a lockdown could be “imminent”.
It comes amid a rising number of influenza cases across the country, while COVID-19 cases continue to fall.
The plan details four levels of flu outbreak, and if the virus was to reach a critically high level, fresh lockdowns would likely be reinstated.
This would enable officials in Xi’an to shut schools, entertainment venues, and businesses if community spread reaches an acute level.
Professor Tang Renwu, from the School of Government at Beijing Normal University, said more local governments across China were likely to adopt similar lockdown plans for flu outbreaks in the coming days.
Prof Tang said: “Local governments should pay attention to their wording when issuing similar documents so as not to trigger social panic.”
BBC’s Stephen McDonnell revealed that the People’s Armed Police were “masked up” in Beijing last night.
However, it remains unclear whether this was due to the dangerously poor air quality that has dominated the Chinese capital in recent days, or concerns over the flu virus.
China only reversed its long-standing zero-Covid policy three months ago
China only reversed its long-standing zero-Covid policy three months ago.
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The mega-city has backed the use of lockdowns and school and business closures
The absolutist policy crippled the economy and triggered social unrest before it was abruptly abandoned in December.
During the pandemic, many Chinese residents were not allowed to come out of their homes, with several apartment blocks even sealed shut.
This left many unable to go shopping for food or crucial supplies.
The city of Xi’an was placed under some of the strictest lockdown measures by authorities.