Update: China has locked down a third major city, ordering the 5.5 million residents of Anyang in Henan province to stay home and barring most vehicles from the streets. The lockdown, brought in after two cases of the omicron variant were detected, brings the total number of people under lockdown orders in China to around 20 million, the AP reports. In Xi'an, 13 million people have been locked down for nearly three weeks. Another 1.5 million are locked down in Yuzhou. Authorities say 84 people have now tested positive in Anyang, though it's not clear whether they all have the omicron variant, RTHK reports. The Anyang cases are believed to be connected to an outbreak in the northern city of Tianjin, where neighborhoods have been locked down but not the entire city. Our story from Monday follows:
Tianjin, a city of 14 million people in northeast China, isn't under a full lockdown yet—but it may only be a matter of time. The port city, around 70 miles from Beijing, began testing all its residents Sunday after at least two cases of the omicron variant were confirmed, the Guardian reports. Authorities say the first people to test positive were a 10-year-old girl and a worker at an after-school center. On Monday, officials said testing had detected a total of 41 COVID cases, most of them close contacts of the first two cases, reports the AP. They did not disclose whether the new cases also involve the fast-spreading variant.
Two other Chinese cities, Xi'an and Yuzhou, have been locked down tightly after the detection of delta cases, with Xi'an residents banned from leaving their homes even to buy food. For now, some neighborhoods in Tianjin have been locked down but the restrictions are not citywide. Travel to and from the city, which is only around 30 minutes from Beijing by train, has been tightly restricted. Beijing is trying to stamp out COVID clusters before the Winter Olympics begin Feb. 4 but there are signs omicron could have spread far beyond Tianjin, the New York Times reports. In Anyang, more than 250 miles away, officials have confirmed two omicron cases linked to a student who arrived from Tianjin on Dec. 28, raising fears that the variant has been circulating undetected for weeks. (Read more China stories.)