The northwestern Chinese city of Xian launched lockdown measures on Thursday as it accounted for 63 of the country’s 71 new local symptomatic Covid-19 cases, detected in citywide testing. Home to the famed Terracotta Warriors and nearly 100 universities and colleges, the capital of Shaanxi province is battling a twin onslaught of the coronavirus and deadly seasonal haemorrhagic fever. The city of 13 million residents had on Wednesday reported 52 symptomatic cases from the same round of testing. On Wednesday night, the Xian government announced that starting on Thursday, people could leave the city only where absolutely necessary, for which permission needed to be granted. All residential compounds, villages and companies were placed in lockdown. Each family was permitted to send one member to buy supplies every two days, but no other trips were allowed except emergencies such as admission to hospital. Schools, tourism and mass gatherings were suspended, while shops and entertainment venues were closed and dining in was halted in restaurants. The Xian clusters had already been confirmed as having spread to four cities: Yanan and Xianyang in Shaanxi, Dongguan in the southern Guangdong province, and Beijing in the north. China on Monday further tightened its stringent Covid-19 quarantine and border control rules to counter the threat of the Omicron variant, and health authorities pledged to stick with the country’s zero-Covid policy . Nationwide, besides the 71 new local symptomatic cases announced on Thursday, there were two local asymptomatic cases and 46 imported cases (29 of them symptomatic). Ian Yang, a 38-year-old social worker in Xian, told the South China Morning Post she had been working from home for three days, leaving her flat only for Covid-19 testing. “Starting today, my residential compound is handing out a dated permission card to every family, and people are only allowed to enter and exit after showing the card at the gate,” she said. Her family has stocked up on food and other necessities for a week, and placed further orders online. Universities are operating under strict regulations. Gao Yongkai, a student at the local Xidian University, said academic buildings had been closed and student volunteers were helping to conduct campuswide Covid-19 testing. “Currently classes are finished and it’s academic testing month, so you see many people studying while standing in queues for Covid-19 tests,” he said. This weekend, the postgraduate admission test – a requirement for all graduate schools in mainland China – is also due to take place in Xian. Students who were unable to reach the city were told they could apply to take it elsewhere. Xian has come under criticism in recent days for chaotic arrangements including its health code app – essential as a track-and-trace tool – breaking down on Monday, causing confusion and frustration among locals.