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China prohibits residents from leaving Xinjiang due to the Covid outbreak

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China has prohibited residents from leaving Xinjiang due to a Covid-19 outbreak, just weeks after the far-western region began relaxing restrictions from a stringent extended lockdown, fueling public frustration among those affected by food shortages and falling incomes, according to local media.

CNN reported that the region, which is home to 22 million people, many of whom are ethnic minorities, reported 38 new asymptomatic Covid cases on Tuesday.

It was enough to worry officials, with Xinjiang Vice Chairman Liu Sushe vowing to take action “strengthen the control of cross-regional personnel and insist that people do not leave the region unless it is necessary”.

Liu went on to say that Xinjiang will beef up security at airports, train stations, and checkpoints to prevent the virus from spreading to other parts of the country. Until further notice, all outbound trains, interprovincial buses, and most flights will be suspended.

According to data from flight tracking company Variflight, 97% of departing flights and 95% of arriving flights were cancelled on Wednesday at the airport in Urumqi, the regional capital. Meanwhile, all flights leaving Kashgar, a southern oasis town with Xinjiang’s second-largest airport, were cancelled, with the exception of two to Urumqi, according to CNN.

“The current round of Covid-19 outbreak is the fastest spreading, most widespread, most infectious and most difficult to control public health emergency in the history of Xinjiang,” Liu said.

Xinjiang has reported a total of 5,790 infections since July 30.

Xinjiang, according to Liu, will “create a favourable environment” for the success of the 20th Party Congress, a meeting of the party elite later this month at which Xi Jinping is expected to be appointed to a third term in power, cementing his status as the most powerful Chinese leader in decades.

The run-up to the congress, the most important event on the Chinese political calendar, is especially sensitive, with authorities working across the country to smooth the way and contain any potential hiccups – such as an untimely Covid outbreak, according to CNN.

However, in Xinjiang, the news of the region’s closed borders dismayed many residents who were still reeling from the effects of the previous lockdown.

About the author

Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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