SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese authorities halted public transport in a provincial capital near Beijing on Saturday in an effort to stamp out a new cluster of coronavirus infections.
Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province which surrounds Beijing, suspended service on the city’s subway, then extended the ban to all public transport, including taxis. The province entered a “wartime mode” this week to battle the infections.
At a media conference on Saturday, provincial authorities said mass testing for the virus had been conducted for all 11 million residents of Shijiazhuang, as well as the neighboring city of Xingtai.
Ma Yujun, deputy mayor of Shijiazhuang, said the city was working to locate the origin of the outbreak.
Authorities on Thursday banned people from leaving Shijiazhuang and later told residents they must stay home for at least seven days even after they complete a nucleic acid test.
The National Health Commission reported 33 new COVID-19 cases for mainland China on Jan. 8, down from 53 reported a day earlier. The authority said 14 of the 17 locally transmitted infections were in Hebei.
The health commission also reported 38 new asymptomatic cases, down from 57 a day earlier. China does not classify these patients, who have been infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease but are not yet showing any COVID-19 symptoms, as confirmed cases.
(Reporting by Josh Horwitz and Hongwei Liu in Shanghai and Roxanne Liu in Beijing; Editing by William Mallard and Lincoln Feast)