The major Chinese city of Chengdu put 21 million people in lockdown Thursday as it conducts mass COVID-19 testing through Sunday.
Residents of the Sichuan capital were told to stay home as of 6 p.m. Thursday, but families could send one member out for grocery shopping each day with a negative test.
Persons can seek medical care with approval from neighborhood committees, and businesses will be closed except grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals, according to CNN.
It is the largest shutdown in China since Shanghai faced a lockdown in June and the latest sign the communist government is clinging to its zero-COVID policy while the rest of the world relies on vaccines and treatments.
Chinese citizens have grumbled about the policy, citing families who’ve struggled to get food or seek medical care.
Beijing has defended its policy as a way to save lives. But public health experts say China’s reliance on draconian measures is not sustainable in the face of fast-moving omicron variants.
Vaccination rates in China are lagging among vulnerable elderly persons, and domestic vaccines are not considered as effective as the messenger-RNA ones used in the West.
Some analysts believe the government will cling to the heavy-handed policy at least through the 20th Party Congress in October when President Xi Jinping will look to extend his grip on the party.
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.