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China’s Chengdu, a city of 21 million, extends its coronavirus lockdown

A man looks into a closed community in Chengdu. Authorities have the city on lockdown as covid cases continue to emerge. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock) (Stringer/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in southwestern China, extended its week-long lockdown with no end date in sight, as authorities try to stop transmission of the coronavirus as part of the country’s goal of “zero covid.”

With a population of 21 million, Chengdu is the largest Chinese city to shut down since Shanghai imposed a strict two-month lockdown in April — which left thousands of residents scrambling for food and spurred a mental health crisis.

On Wednesday, when lockdown measures were expected to be lifted, authorities detected 116 new covid cases, according to the Reuters news agency. Those followed the 121 cases recorded the previous day.

Authorities said residents in 16 of Chengdu’s 23 jurisdictions will undergo daily testing for the virus, the Guardian reported. The remaining jurisdictions have been released from strict lockdown, but residents will not be allowed to travel out of Chengdu, let alone their home districts, unless absolutely necessary.

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Authorities across the country have discouraged “nonessential” travel, as China prepares for its National Day celebrations the first week of October, followed by the Communist Party Congress mid-month. Residents in Shenzhen were ordered to stay home last weekend after the city recorded several dozen covid cases, according to an earlier report in The Washington Post. The country’s third-largest city, Guangzhou, and the Tibetan capital of Lhasa remain under strict lockdown measures, The Post noted.

President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term as China’s leader during the congress, which the Communist Party holds every five years.

Chengdu, home to a major factory producing Apple products such as MacBooks and iPads, was most recently plagued by an intense heat wave, a severe drought and power cuts. An earthquake this week left at least 65 people dead there.