Chinese Residents Reportedly Turned Away from Xi'an Hospitals Amid Citywide COVID Lockdown

The northern Chinese city of Xi'an is currently under a citywide lockdown from an increase of COVID-19 infections but residents trying to get immediate care from hospitals are reportedly being turned away.

Stories on social media are circulating with reports of people trying to get into hospitals to receive medical attention but have been turned away for not having an up-to-date COVID-19 test result.

A post on social media described one account of a pregnant woman who experienced stomach pains on New Year's Day and went to seek medical care, yet was not allowed entry into the hospital.

The woman's niece posted a video online which was taken by the woman's husband. The video showed the pregnant woman sitting on a pink plastic stool outside of the hospital waiting to be let in when she started bleeding.

Medical staff saw blood pooling at her feet and allowed the woman into the hospital for treatment. However, the fetus was already dead by the time she received care, according to the post.

Over one million residents in the city of Yuzhou have also been placed under a citywide lockdown after officials found three asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. As of Wednesday, there have been a total of 23 asymptomatic cases and nine cases with symptoms.

Xi'an COVID-19 Lockdown
Residents in Xi'an seeking emergency care at hospitals have allegedly been turned away for not having their COVID-19 test results. Above, this photo taken on December 25, 2021, shows a medical worker taking a swab sample from a resident to be tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus in Xi'an in China's northern Shaanxi province. STR/AFP/Getty Images

In Yuzhou, only emergency vehicles are allowed on the roads, classes have been suspended and businesses catering to the public have closed for all but essential needs in the city of 1.17 million.

Several other cities in the province have ordered mass testing, shut public venues and restricted or suspended intercity travel, despite only small numbers of cases being detected.

China on Wednesday reported a major drop in COVID-19 infections in the northern city of Xi'an, which has been under a tight lockdown for the past two weeks.

The National Health Commission announced just 35 new cases in Xi'an, home to the famed Terracotta Warriors statues along with major industries, down from 95 the day before.

Health officials said they have basically achieved the goal of halting community transmission because the new cases were among people already quarantined.

The decline has continued since daily new cases topped 100, which had prompted officials to retain and in some cases tighten restrictions on people leaving their homes.

Xi'an has reported nearly 1,800 cases but no deaths in its latest surge. That's a small number compared to outbreaks in other countries, a sign that China's "zero tolerance" strategy of quarantining every case, mass testing and trying to block new infections from abroad has helped it contain major outbreaks.

Some residents of Xi'an have been complaining of food shortages, prompting officials to defend their measures and pledge to ensure adequate supplies. Some residents are receiving free food packages, while others are still scrambling to find where they can purchase groceries online.

Officials haven't given a specific date for the lifting of the lockdown.

At least two district Communist Party officials in Xi'an have been sacked for failing to control the outbreak, and a third, the head of the city's big data management bureau, Liu Jun, has been suspended, Xinhua reported Wednesday.

That came after the city's health code system that monitors movements and vaccinations crashed on December 20 due to high traffic as case numbers were rising, Xinhua said.

China has reported a total of 102,932 cases nationwide, with its death toll remaining steady at 4,636.

The lockdowns, however, are far more stringent than anything seen in the West, and have exacted a tremendous toll on the economy and disrupted the lives of millions of people.

With the Beijing Olympics beginning February 4, China is doubling down on measures to prevent any new outbreak that could affect the proceedings.

People are being told to travel in and out of Beijing only if they absolutely need to and hotels have largely stopped taking new reservations. Athletes, officials and journalists are entering an "anti-pandemic" bubble as soon as they arrive and will remain within it until the February 4-20 Winter Games are over.

No fans from outside China will be permitted and most spectators are expected to come from schools, government offices and the military rather than the general public.

Underscoring the importance of the event, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Olympic sites around the capital on Tuesday, including the main media center.

"Staging major international sporting events such as the Winter Olympics will be an opportunity to enhance the influence of Chinese culture, the reach of news reporting and the nation's soft power," Xi was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Outbreak concerns added to controversies that have dogged the Olympics over China's human rights record, with the U.S. and close allies announcing a diplomatic boycott. Xi is seeking to be appointed to a third five-year term as leader this year and is eager to avoid any development that could tarnish his reputation.

China has vaccinated nearly 85 percent of its population, according to Our World in Data. The shots have helped reduce the severity of disease, although Chinese vaccines are considered less effective than those used elsewhere.

The AP was not able to independently verify the video of the pregnant woman. The woman's niece did not respond to messages left on her social media accounts.

Authorities told Phoenix News that they are investigating the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Deserted Xi'an Street
A sanitation worker sweeps a deserted road in Xi'an in China's northern Shaanxi province, amid a coronavirus lockdown in the city on December 28, 2021. STR/AFP via Getty Images