Xi’an lockdown brings heartbreak and dysfunction as political pressure to contain outbreak grows

Xi’an lockdown brings heartbreak and dysfunction as political pressure to contain outbreak grows

As the locked down Chinese city of Xi’an claimed victory this week in its fight to contain the community spread of Covid-19, harrowing tales of loss and despair have emerged on social media — highlighting the immense human cost of China’s zero-Covid policy.

The city of 13 million has been under strict lockdown since December 23, as it grapples with the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak since Wuhan, the original epicenter of the pandemic. But local authorities have faced a public outcry over perceived incompetence, and disproportionately harsh measures that critics say harm the lives of those they are supposed to protect.

Over the past two weeks, Chinese social media has been flooded with posts from residents who say they have not received food, basic supplies, even medical care — painting an image of local government dysfunction as pressure builds on local officials to contain Covid just weeks before major Lunar New Year festivities and the Beijing Winter Olympics.

One heavily pregnant woman was allegedly turned away from a hospital on New Year’s Day because she didn’t have a valid Covid-19 test, according to a post from a user who said she was the woman’s niece. A video posted on January 3 shows the woman sitting outside with a pool of blood around her feet. She was finally admitted two hours later — but suffered a miscarriage, said the post, shared widely on Chinese micro-blogging platform Weibo before it was deleted.

David Kriegel