CHINESE residents have reportedly traded Â£ 260 worth of Nintendo consoles for instant noodles amid fears of food shortages during the world’s toughest lockdown.
Authorities have banned 13 million people in Xi’an city from leaving, even for essential reasons, as the country tries to control one of its worst Covid outbreaks.
Residents confined since December 23 have reportedly been seen begging for food on social media as China’s tough “zero Covid” policy provides for brutal punishments for those who break quarantine.
The strict lockdown comes as a series of overwhelmingly positive studies show Omicron to be milder than other strains, with the UK’s first official report showing the risk of hospitalization is 50-70% lower than Delta’s.
Covid booster shots protect against Omicron and offer the best chance of weathering the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get vital additional vaccines in the arms of the British to avoid the need for further restrictions.
And now, posts on the Chinese social media platform Weibo claim that locals are swapping expensive cigarettes and gadgets for groceries.
Images shared showed some traded cigarettes for cabbage, dish soap for apples, and even a Nintendo Switch for instant noodles and steamed buns.
As government staff delivered supplies to those stranded, many reported that they were struggling because they had not yet received them.
A local named Wang said Free Asia Radio: “People exchange stuff with others in the same building because they don’t have enough to eat.”
According to the store, another man wanted to trade in a smartphone and tablet for rice.
China’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid has reportedly seen authorities raiding dozens of homes in the middle of the night and forcing people to board buses to the quarantine camp.
It comes as an additional 1.2 million people in central Chinese city of Yuzhou have been placed in lockdown after three asymptomatic cases of Covid were recorded.
The measures imposed are similar to those in Xi’an, with authorities looking for vehicles on the roads and violators face ten days in detention and a fine of 500 yuan (Â£ 58).
Despite the draconian measures, China is still reporting a high number of Covid cases.
Meanwhile, in the UK, ministers are convinced there is no need to add further Covid restrictions to tackle the new Omicron wave.
The Prime Minister, who is expected to hold a press conference in Downing Street this evening, said the Omicron was “clearly softer” than previous variants, following studies showing it is up to 70% less severe.
And Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, chairman of the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization (JCVI), said the company was due to reopen fully soon, warning that a fourth shot should not be offered until there was no more evidence because it is “not sustainable” to distribute reminders every six months.
Hospital admissions are finally down in London for the first time since the onset of the mutation.
And a top expert says she believes life could return to normal in just 60 days, as cases peak.