20 million in China now under lockdowns ahead of Olympics

China placed a third city on lockdown this week, bringing the number of people in the country confined to their homes to nearly 20 million just weeks before the start of the Olympics, according to The Associated Press.

Officials late Monday announced the lockdown of Anyang, which is home to about 5.5. million people, after two omicron cases were reported in the city. Under the lockdown, all stores have been closed with the exception of those that sell necessities, the news service noted.

Residents in cities in which lockdowns have been implemented are reportedly not allowed to leave their homes.

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For the past three weeks, 13 million people in Xi’an have been living under lockdown, the AP reported, and about 1.1 million have been in lockdown in Yuzhou for more than a week.

It is unclear how long Anyang will remain in lockdown, as the precaution was taken in order to carry out mass testing in the area — a strategy that China has used to identify those infected with the virus as soon as possible, according to news service.

The lockdowns have also been implemented as a measure to stop the virus from spreading to other parts of the country ahead of the Winter Olympics, which are set to begin on Feb. 4.

Huang Chun, a Beijing Olympics official responsible for disease control, told the AP that organizers are depending on athletes and officials to cooperate in order to prevent the spread of the virus from affecting the Games.

“If the mass cluster transmission happens, it will impact the Games and the schedule for sure,” Huang reportedly said. “The worst scenario, if it happens, is independent of man’s will, so we leave our options open.”