CHINESE residents have been reportedly trading £260 Nintendo consoles for instant noodles amid fears of food shortages during the world's toughest lockdown.
Authorities have banned 13 million people in the city of Xi’an from going outside even for essential reasons, as the country is trying to control one of its worst Covid outbreaks.
Residents who have been confined since December 23, were seen reportedly begging for food on social media as China's harsh "zero Covid" policy sees brutal punishments for those breaking quarantine.
The strict lockdown comes as a string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
And now posts on the Chinese social media platform Weibo claim that locals trading cigarettes and expensive gadgets for groceries.
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Shared footage showed some allegedly exchanging cigarettes for cabbage, dishwashing liquid for apples, and even a Nintendo Switch for instant noodles and steamed buns.
While government staff has been delivering supplies to those in lockdown, many have reported that they are struggling as they have not received them yet.
A resident surnamed Wang told Radio Free Asia: "People are swapping stuff with others in the same building because they no longer have enough food to eat."
According to the outlet another man wanted to trade 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 onto buses to quarantine camp.
It comes as another 1.2million people in the city ofYuzhou in central China were plunged into lockdown after three asymptomatic Covid cases were recorded.
The measures imposed are similar to the ones in Xi' an with authorities being on the lookout for vehicles on the roads and rule-breakers facing ten days in detention and a 500 yuan fine (£58).
Despite the draconian measures, China is still reporting high numbers of Covid cases.
Meanwhile, in the UK ministers are confident there is no need to add any more Covid restrictions to fight the new Omicron wave.
The PM , who is expected to hold a Downing St press conference tonight,said Omicron is "plainly milder" than previous variants following studies showing it is up to 70 per cent less severe.
And Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, the chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), says society must soon reopen fully, warning that a fourth jab mustn't be offered until there's more evidence as it's "not sustainable" to hand out boosters every six months.
Hospital admissions are finally dropping in London for the first time since the mutation emerged.
And a top expert says she believes life could be back to normal in just 60 days as cases peak.
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