Life for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

Zhang Long
Ever since the citywide closed-loop management started on December 23, Xi'an has seen a surge in daily cases, with the numbers passing 100 for eight consecutive days.
Zhang Long

The terracotta warrior city of Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, has finally brought the community spread of COVID-19 under control, local authorities said on Wednesday.

Authorities said they could begin easing the tight restrictions if the city reaches "zero community COVID."

That means when confirmed coronavirus cases are only identified in government-designated centralized quarantine facilities.

Ever since the citywide closed-loop management started on December 23, Xi'an has seen a surge in daily cases, with the numbers passing 100 for eight consecutive days, as multiple nucleic acid tests were carried out of the 13 million residents across the city.

Yesterday, at the time of writing this article, Xi'an reported 35 new cases, with Shaanxi seeing a total of 1,820 confirmed patients.

With the easing of the pandemic, Shanghai Daily contacted several residents and expats to learn about their life during the lockdown.


Lu Peng, 32, a second-hand car salesman in a private firm, had to put everything on hold when the city was locked down on December 23.

Prior to that, his team could seal more than 100 deals a month, from which he could get a handsome commission.

Life  for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

On the first day of the new year, he signed up to be a volunteer in the Qihang Jiayuan community in the Xixian New Area, responsible for preparing residents for the nucleic acid tests.

It took him almost four hours to register the 500 residents of 220 households in one building. After one day's work, he was drenched in sweat with his heavy protective suit and his back ached a lot.

Life  for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

Lu Peng and his fellow volunteers put on their protective suits ahead of the start of a busy day.

His family worried about him and tried to talk him out of the volunteer work. But aware that the community was short of labor, he still signed up and kept his family in the dark.

"I just want to chip in and do what I can to help my community and my city. When this surge of pandemic dies off and everything is back to normal, I'd really like to take my wife for a hearty meal," Lu said.

Life  for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

Volunteers take some rest on the stairs of a residential building.

Elementary school teacher ready for online education

Mei Yan is a Chinese teacher and leader of the Chinese teaching group for first graders at the Vanke Primary School of Shaanxi Normal University .

"We were ready for the lockdown. One week before the whole city was sealed off, we had some training for online teaching," she explained.

Mei's schedule remains full even though she is teaching at home. She has livestreamed classes in the morning and online meetings with other school faculty in the afternoon to discuss work.

She dedicates the evenings to preparing for the next day's teaching while looking after her two kids – a second-grader boy and a 12-month-old girl.

Life  for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

A screen shot of Mei Yan's online live teaching session

Despite her experience in online teaching from the previous lockdown in early 2020, juggling between students and her two kids is still pretty demanding.

"My son's desk is just next to mine. Whenever I teach, my son would knowingly stay quiet and just do his homework, but the younger one sometimes cries and disrupts my class. Luckily my mother-in-law helps me take care of the baby," Mei said.

Life  for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

Mom's right here: Mei Yan's son's desk is just next to hers at home.

"Now I just hope our city can win this war with COVID-19, and I really wish to get out and the first person I'd like to meet is my mom," Mei added.

Security staffer placates the elderly

Wang Hongan, 56, is a security staffer working in the Fengdeng Road community. His job is to scan people's health code and take their temperature when they enter or leave the community. His working time has been extended from eight hours to 12 since the city's lockdown.

Life  for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

Wang Hongan at the community's entrance

When the lockdown first started, one person of each family was allowed to get out to do shopping every two days. After the situation worsened, all residents are required to stay at home and supplies were delivered to their doorstep by the community staff.

"Some elderly residents don't understand why they are not allowed to go out. Some even yell at me. I just remain patient and quiet. We have been neighbors for decades, thus they will understand and cooperate eventually," Wang said.

Life  for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

Routine community disinfection

Taking care of the community

Lu Mingxuan, 45, has been working for a year as community manager of the 326 households in the PetroChina Changqing community on Laodong Road.

"Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19 in December, the community has been carrying out disinfection six to eight times daily, with the earliest starting from 5:30am and the last one finishing at midnight. And for quarantined households, the disinfection was performed every two hours," Lu said.

Life  for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

Lu at her community entrance

Due to the lockdown, some residents had to be away from home, leaving their aged parents alone. Lu and her colleagues looked after them and took videos and sent them to their families.

Life  for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

Lu delivers supplies to an elderly resident.

Asked what was the first thing she'd like to do when the lockdown is over, Lu said she'd probably cry because she's been under a lot of pressure and also because the job is done, with every resident safe.

Life  for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

Food waits to be distributed for the households.

Experience helps in volunteer work

Yan Ping, 50, had to close her beauty club when the lockdown began. She thought she could use the free time to work as a volunteer. She was assigned to a community in Lianhu District to help scan residents' health code during the nucleic acid test.

Life  for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

Every day she leaves home at about 6am, and returns home after 8pm.

Every shift is six to seven hours. The average number other volunteers could scan was 700 to 800. But Yan could scan more than 1,100 during each shift.

"One benefit of being a volunteer is that we can be outside, so after my shift is over, I would help my neighbors do some shopping, such as fruits and baby milk formula," Yan said proudly.

Because of her efficiency, Yan was assigned to other communities and teamed up with different doctors. The volunteer group leader wanted her to step down from the front line and do management work because of her experience. But Yan insisted that she wanted to be on the frontier.

Life  for residents amidst Xi'an lockdown

Yan scans a resident's health code.

"On my first day of being a dabai (Big White, nickname for volunteers and medical staff who are in white protective suits), some residents thought we were dangerous. One young man even said, 'Don't get close to me, I don't want to get infected' when I was trying to scan his health code. I cried that day," she said.

"But most people understand us. When the lockdown is over I will return to my beauty club; I miss running and doing yoga," she added.

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