China imposed a strict lockdown on almost half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, as authorities warned it was soon to "relax" over the new cluster of cases.
After the pandemic emerged in China at the end of a year ago, the country has managed to get new infections to a consistently low level. The county is located in the Hebei province which surrounds Beijing, where a new COVID-19 cluster has emerged in recent weeks.
Mainland China reported 12 new asymptomatic patients, who tested positive for COVID-19 but showed no clinical symptoms such as a fever, up from five a day earlier.
The new lockdown, which will affect about 400,000 people, means only essential workers are allowed to leave their homes.
No non-residents residents will be allowed to enter buildings, communities or villages. Families are only permitted to send one person per household outside to purchase supplies once a day - and all outside vehicles are banned.
The rest of China has seen only a small trickle of single-digit infections, most of which were imported cases, which means travellers returning from overseas.
Since June 11, the Chinese capital has seen a resurgence in locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases, prompting the municipal government to tighten containment measures.
While this is a small number compared with the thousands of daily cases in the US or South America, China reacted quickly to contain any spread.
The move comes after another 14 cases of the virus were reported in the past 24 hours in Beijing, taking the total to 311 since mid-June and spurring the testing of millions of residents. The virus has since sickened 10 million globally and killed over half a million.
After passing 80,000 confirmed cases at the start of March, it has added only around 4,700 since then.
It's been reported that the new cases in Beijing go against predictions by the National Health Commission expert Wu Hao.
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