China ‘Seals Off’ Half A Million People In County Outside Beijing After New Coronavirus Outbreak

Authorities in China have put more than 400,000 people under lockdown in Hebei province’s Anxin county, located a mere 90 miles from the capital of Beijing, amid concerns over a new coronavirus outbreak in the area.

As part of the new lockdown measures, residential areas have been “sealed off” and most of the county’s population has been restricted from leaving their homes, the Guardian reported. Officials said stricter measures were taken out of caution because Anxin, which has reported only 12 cases, is so close to Beijing.

The move comes amid concerns over a new cluster of coronavirus cases in Beijing and neighboring provinces. The reported cases were linked to Xinfadi, a wholesale food market that supplies most of Beijing’s produce. Businesses in Anxin county are a major supplier of seafood for Xinfadi market, according to the Guardian.

A local notice, posted Sunday on the Chinese blogging website Weibo, stated that only one person from each household would be given a special pass to leave their home once a day in order to buy necessities like food and medicine. The measures are similar to the lockdown in Wuhan, the city where the virus originated, where more than 11 million people were quarantined.

“Every single person has responsibility when combating the virus,” the Weibo notice said, adding that those who do not obey the lockdown measures would face “severe treatment by public security according to the law.” (RELATED: Beijing Shuts Down Schools Amid New Wave Of Coronavirus)

Cui Xiaobo, a professor of public health at Capital Medical University in Beijing, told the South China Morning Post that there was no need to be concerned about the situation in Anxin county. “There’s no need to panic,” Cui said. “As long as people do not engage in large gatherings, there should be no big problem.”