The city recorded 18 Covid infections from Saturday to Monday, all belonging to the Omicron BA.5.2 subvariant, according to local disease control officials.
This is the first time the subvariant has been reported in China, one of the last places in the world to still adhere to a strict zero-Covid policy.
On Tuesday, Xi’an officials announced sweeping restrictions that would shut down parts of the city for seven days starting Wednesday.
Entertainment, sports and cultural venues, including bars, cinemas, gyms, libraries and museums, have been closed; restaurant dining and large gatherings, from weddings to conferences, have been suspended; all places of worship have been closed and religious activities banned, city official Zhang Xuedong said at the press conference on Tuesday.
Kindergartens and primary and secondary schools have been ordered to start summer holidays early, while universities have been ordered to seal off their campuses, according to Zhang.
Authorities also locked down nine residential neighborhoods classified as “high-risk areas”, barring residents from leaving their communities.
“The seven-day temporary control measures are intended to calm society as much as possible, reduce mobility … and the risk of cross-infection,” Zhang said.
The announcement caused a stir among some Xi’an residents, many of whom recalled the chaos caused by the city’s month-long strict lockdown between December and January.
On Wednesday, Xi’an reported 29 local infections.
Meanwhile in Shanghai, authorities on Tuesday ordered mass testing for 12 of its 16 districts, in response to a handful of new infections linked to a karaoke bar.
Although the financial hub lifted a months-long lockdown on most of its 25 million people in June, it is still subject to Covid restrictions, from frequent testing to targeted lockdowns.
On Wednesday, the city reported 24 locally transmitted Covid-19 cases.