Urumqi relaxes epidemic control rules

Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, has relaxed pandemic control measures for some "infection-free" residential communities since Sunday as the recent outbreak of COVID-19 infections eases in the city.

The adjustment covers all residential communities in Dabancheng district, Urumqi county and the Ganquanpu Economic Development Zone, as well as several infection-free neighborhoods in six other districts, the city's epidemic prevention and control headquarters said on Monday in a notice.

With pandemic control measures in place, supermarkets, convenience stores and produce markets are permitted to resume operations during specified hours, the notice said.

Residents can move freely in their residential communities with strengthened pandemic control measures, it said. They are required to wear masks, maintain a physical distance between individuals, and avoid gatherings and visiting each other's homes, while community workers will carry out cleanings and disinfections of public areas at least six times a day.

The epidemic prevention and control headquarters will gradually increase the number of infection-free communities with relaxed control measures in a prudent and scientific way, it added.

On July 15, Urumqi confirmed one new COVID-19 case, leading the city to impose lockdown measures that have been in place since July 17 in its residential communities and villages.

By Monday, Xinjiang had 160 confirmed cases and 49 asymptomatic cases, all in Urumqi, and 3,597 people were still under medical observation, according to the regional health commission.

From July 15 to Monday, a total of 666 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospital in the region after recovering, and 189 asymptomatic cases were released from medical observation.

No newly confirmed or asymptomatic cases have been reported in Xinjiang since Aug 18.

Li Tao, a resident at the city's Shaybak district, said he is glad that he can move freely in the community.

"Urumqi has survived the pandemic, and we have triumphed," he said.

During the lockdown, the government has made great efforts to provide daily necessities and free medicine to people in need, Li said.

"Although we still cannot leave the community, being able to buy groceries by ourselves will alleviate the workload of volunteers and communities," he explained. "I am sure we can return to normal life soon."

Xinhua contributed to this story.