Beijing/UNI: China's Xi'an city with around 13 million population was put under partial lockdown on Wednesday after it reported the first outbreak of a highly transmissible new Omicron subvariant.
The city had recorded 18 Covid cases of Omicron BA.5.2 subvariant from Saturday till Monday, according to local disease control officials.
BA.5.2 is a sub-lineage of BA.5, which is already dominant in the US and appears to escape antibody responses among both people previously infected with Covid-19 and those who have been fully vaccinated and boosted, CNN quoted the researchers as saying.
On Tuesday, Xi'an officials had announced that parts of the city would be under lockdown for seven days from Wednesday.
According to city official Zhang Xuedong, entertainment, sports and cultural venues, including bars, cinemas, gyms, libraries and museums, were closed; restaurant dining and large gatherings, from weddings to conferences, were suspended; all places of worship were shut and religious activities banned.
While the kindergartens, primary and secondary schools were ordered to begin their summer holidays early, university campuses have been sealed.
CNN reported that the authorities have also locked down nine residential neighborhoods categorized as "high-risk areas," banning residents from leaving their communities.
"The seven-day temporary control measures are meant to quieten the society down as much as possible, reduce mobility...and the risk of cross-infection," Zhang said.
Following the announcement, photos and videos were posted on social media showing hundreds of Xi'an residents rushing to leave the city on Tuesday night.