China locks down city of 9 million amid new spike in coronavirus cases

People waiting for coronavirus tests in Shanghai
People line up for coronavirus tests outside a hospital in Shanghai on Friday.

China on Friday ordered a lockdown of the northeastern city of Changchun — home to 9 million people — amid a new spike in coronavirus cases in the area attributed to the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Residents are required to remain home, with one family member permitted to venture out to buy food and other necessities every two days. All residents must undergo three rounds of mass testing, while nonessential businesses have been closed and transport links suspended.

The latest lockdowns in China — which also include Yucheng, a city of 500,000 people in the eastern province of Shandong — show that Beijing is sticking to its draconian “zero-tolerance” approach to the pandemic, despite some earlier indications that authorities might implement more targeted measures.


China reported an additional 397 cases of local transmission nationwide Friday, 98 of them in Jilin province, which is home to Changchun, a center of the country’s auto industry. The province’s caseload has exceeded 1,100 since the latest outbreak struck late last week.

Just two cases were reported Friday within Changchun itself, bringing the total in Jilin’s capital city to 78 in recent days. But authorities have repeatedly pledged to lock down any community where a case is discovered.

An additional 93 cases were confirmed in the nearby city of Jilin, which bears the same name as the province. Authorities have already ordered a partial lockdown of the city and severed its travel links with other cities.

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Officials at the Jilin Agricultural Science and Technology University have been fired after a cluster of infections was reported on campus and students complained on social media that those who tested positive were being confined in school libraries and other buildings in poor conditions.

The school has registered 74 confirmed cases and transferred more than 6,000 people to quarantine, according to state broadcaster CCTV.


Aerial images showed students in hazmat suits lining up in the cold and dark waiting to be transferred.