Covid news live: France accelerates introduction of vaccine passes; Europe cases at record highs

Chinese officials have admitted they have faced challenges getting enough supplies to residents in locked-down Xi’an, after the city’s inhabitants took to social media to complain they didn’t have enough food and to call for help, AFP reports.

Thirteen million residents in northern Xi’an are in their seventh day of home confinement, and national health officials have called for measures to be strengthened further as China battles its worst virus surge in months.

Beijing has followed a strict “zero Covid” strategy involving tight border restrictions and targeted lockdowns since the virus first surfaced in late 2019.

But officials admitted at a press conference on Wednesday that “low staff attendance and difficulties in logistics and distribution” had led to trouble providing essential supplies as the country faces a resurgence in infections.

A day before, many residents asked on social media for help acquiring food and other essentials, with some saying their housing compounds would not let them out even though they were running out of food.

Xi’an official Chen Jianfeng told reporters that the local government has mobilised enterprises to step up community distribution, with cadres supervising wholesale markets and supermarkets.

“We’re trying our best to assist in the problem of staff turnout, and are issuing passes for vehicles that guarantee the supply of necessities,” he said.

But some were still struggling with supplies. “How do we live? What do we eat?” one user wrote on Weibo.

“Days ago, we could go out once to buy groceries but that’s been cancelled… all online grocery apps are either sold out or beyond the delivery range,” the user added.

The city stepped up confinement measures on Monday, with many residents told not to leave their homes except for virus testing – after previously being told they could go out once every three days to buy supplies.

Authorities had previously insisted that supplies remain stable as they maintain strict controls of movement into and out of Xi’an.

The city has logged over 960 domestic virus cases since 9 December.

Although the surge in China is low in comparison with caseloads in Europe and the United States, Chinese officials imposed what they have called the “strictest” possible curbs in Xi’an.

Authorities have also detained at least seven people in the city over attempting to skip quarantine, disrupting order and spreading rumours, local media said.

Residents queue to undergo Covid testing in Xi’an on the city’s seventh day in lockdown.

Residents queue to undergo Covid testing in Xi’an on the city’s seventh day in lockdown. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images