China tightens Hebei lockdown amid coronavirus outbreak

China on Saturday tightened lockdown measures in Hebei Province, one week after a new outbreak of the novel coronavirus emerged in the northern province.

Starting from 9:40 am on Saturday (0140 GMT), all lines of the Shijiazhuang Metro were suspended indefinitely to stop the further spread of the virus, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Bus operations in the city were also suspended later in the day, according to state media.

Since the outbreak began on January 2, authorities have counted 347 coronavirus cases. On Saturday, 30 new cases were reported by the Hebei health commission, 16 of which were asymptomatic.

The day before, residents of Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, a city around 125 kilometres south of the provincial capital that has also experienced a handful of new cases, were urged not to leave the cities unless necessary.

To this end, private vehicles have been blocked from leaving the cities and long-distance road passenger services have also been severed.

Residential communities have also instituted “closed management” systems, meaning that residents can enter but not leave their compounds except in an emergency, according to the government-run Xinhua news agency.

Some 3,000 medical personnel have been mobilised to support the mass testing of all 11 million residents of Shijiazhuang, while the entire province has entered “wartime mode” to contain the outbreak.

Anti-corruption authorities earlier announced that three local officials have been punishment for failing to reel in the virus’s spread, after a state media commentary censured the provincial government for being ill-prepared and lacking transparency.

Source: GNA

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