Just weeks before the Lunar New Year holiday, the most important annual festival in China which typically sees millions of people traveling home to reunite with family, a severe lockdown was imposed to the 11 million population in Shijiazhuang, northern province of Hebei. The city is located just 180 miles (289.6 kilometers) southwest of Beijing. Local governments have advised residents against traveling home for the holiday, with civil servants and employees of state-owned companies ordered to stay unless special approval is given. Within the city, gatherings are banned and all schools have been suspended. Major highways were blocked, train and bus stations closed and flights were canceled.
The restrictions are some of the strictest imposed in China. A total of 117 new Covid-19 infections , including 67 asymptomatic cases ,were detected in Shijiazhuang on Wednesday. Since January 2, a total of 304 positive cases have been reported in Hebei. A city-wide coronavirus testing drive was rolled out for all of its 11 million residents. The mass testing identified 11 positive results for coronavirus. A hospital in the city has been cleared and designated to treat Covid-19 patients. Lu Hongzhou, co-director of the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center at Fudan University, told the state-run Global Times that the Shijiazhuang outbreak shows villages are a vulnerable link. Religious gatherings may have attributed to the spread of the virus.