A Chinese journalist based in Xian has told of neighbours trading food with one another to deal with supply shortages and the fear of being sent to a quarantine centre, in an account of life under lockdown in the northwestern city. The entire city of 13 million people has been locked down for nearly two weeks and ordered to take compulsory tests as authorities grapple with a Covid-19 outbreak that began on December 9, traced to a flight from Pakistan. While the numbers are low compared with other places – nearly 1,800 locally acquired cases reported so far, with 35 new infections on Tuesday – authorities say the lockdown will be lifted when there is “ zero social transmission ”. Confined to their homes, many residents have complained on social media that it has been badly managed and they are struggling to get hold of food and essentials. Officials say the problem is a shortage of workers to make deliveries and that they are working to get supplies to residents. There have also been reports of difficulties getting access to hospitals, where patients must provide a negative test result to enter. In one account on social media, a woman said her pregnant aunt had lost her baby after she was refused immediate entry to a hospital. The provincial women’s federation on Wednesday said it was investigating. In her account titled “10 days in Xian”, posted to social media network WeChat on Tuesday, independent journalist Jiang Xue said courier services in the city had been suspended since December 21 and people were unable to order online. Since then, people in her neighbourhood had tried to help each other by trading food and sourcing fresh vegetables from a community vendor. Jiang also said the workers tasked with delivering supplies were overstretched and could not meet demand, while people who wanted to help as volunteers could not do so without a permit to leave home – and they were rarely granted. She said people were anxious to avoid being sent to a quarantine centre. If someone tests positive, everyone in their residential compound must go to one of the centres, so her neighbours had been reminding each other to be extra careful. They also encouraged each other after “making it through another day”. Jiang said there was a price to pay for China’s tough zero-Covid policy . “‘There’s only victory for Xian’ – that’s the correct rhetoric but it is empty talk,” Jiang wrote. “Similarly, [the slogan] ‘We will do everything at all costs’. It sounds great but when it comes to individuals, we must think … whether we are the ‘costs’.” Jiang did not respond to an interview request from the South China Morning Post . Little sign of Olympic fever as Beijing gears up for Winter Games amid Covid-19 After working as an investigative reporter and editor at a number of prominent Chinese news organisations, increasing media censorship prompted Jiang to go freelance in 2015. She has since published influential articles on her social media account, including on the families of human rights lawyers persecuted in a nationwide crackdown in 2015. Her account of life under lockdown in Xian has been compared to Wuhan Diary by award-winning novelist and poet Fang Fang . Fang began writing the book on January 25, 2020 – two days after Wuhan was locked down to contain the spread of the new coronavirus detected there in late 2019. It describes the difficulties faced by residents and the devastation brought by the virus, and criticises officials for mishandling the pandemic response. The book was never approved for publication in China – it was translated and published in English, German and Japanese – but became the catalyst for a campaign that led to a nationalist backlash against Fang on social media. The book’s authenticity has been questioned and she has been called a “traitor” and accused of empowering Western criticism of Beijing’s handling of the crisis.