China's Xi'an reacts to COVID lockdowns with outrage and humor Lockdowns are so strict and so prolonged in the Chinese city that residents have taken to social media to complain and joke about a lack of basic supplies.

Residents of Xi'an, China, react to COVID lockdowns with outrage and humor

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A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Three asymptomatic coronavirus cases, that's all it takes to lock down a city in China. Two cities with a combined total of more than 14 million people are under strict lockdown this week. NPR's Emily Feng reports it's a sign that China's no holds barred approach to containing the epidemic is here to stay.

EMILY FENG, BYLINE: In the city of Yuzhou, authorities have found just three cases. The response to all 1.2 million residents there? Lockdown. More than 300 miles away, a little over 1,700 cases have been found in the historic city of Xi'an since early December, a blip compared to the explosion of daily omicron infections in the U.S. But for Chinese authorities, who are punished if even a single case pops up in their jurisdiction, this is serious. Not a foot must leave your house, one official told Xi'an' 13 million residents. This is China's biggest lockdown since Wuhan was first sealed in 2020.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Non-English language spoken).

FENG: You can hear in the video state loudspeakers telling everyone not to walk farther than their front doors. One person who traveled from Xi'an had their house door welded shut by nervous authorities. The lockdowns are so strict and so prolonged in Xi'an that residents have taken to social media to complain about a lack of basic supplies. Jokes about constantly cooking cabbage, the only readily available food, have proliferated. In this video, one resident complains of her struggles to get menstrual pads and to find food.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Non-English language spoken).

FENG: "Does no one care? Are we to be left to starve?" she asks a quarantine official.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: (Non-English language spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Non-English language spoken).

FENG: Some Xi'an hospitals have stopped taking patients with life-threatening conditions as medical resources become strained or simply because patients could present a COVID risk.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: (Non-English language spoken).

FENG: In this video, a husband stands outside a local hospital alongside his pregnant wife. A pool of blood collects below her feet. No one, he says, is available to help them. Lockdowns and mass testing are widely supported in China. They let the majority continue to work and go out like normal. And as the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in February draw near, COVID-prevention policies will likely only get more strict. Chinese journalist Jiang Xue is under lockdown in Xi'an. She wrote in an essay widely shared this week, we must be willing to make any sacrifice to stop the virus. This line is true enough, she writes. But each person should consider, are we the we in this statement? Or are we the sacrifice?

Emily Feng, NPR News, Hainan, China.

(SOUNDBITE OF J'SAN AND EPEKTASE'S "DEEP DIVE")

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