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China locks down 400,000 people after virus spike near Beijing

China has reimposed a strict lockdown for 400,000 people after a spike of coronavirus cases near Beijing

As the number of people killed by the coronavirus passes 500,000 worldwide, China isn’t taking any chances of a second wave gripping the country — despite having largely contained its outbreak in recent months.

In stark contrast to the relaxing of restrictions amid spiking infection rates in the United States and parts of Europe, about 400,000 people have been placed under strict lockdown in Anxin county, in the central province of Hebei, near Beijing, after just 18 fresh cases were detected.

Officials announced in a statement Sunday that “all villages, communities and buildings will be fully closed” in Anxin. Families are only permitted to send one person per household outside to purchase supplies once a day — and all outside vehicles are banned.

Anxin is around 150km (90 miles) south of Beijing. Chinese media say there have been 18 cases in the county since the beginning of the recent surge in Beijing two weeks ago.

The area is not nearly as densely populated as China’s large urban centres, and local health experts said they were optimistic the spread could be stopped.

The response by Chinese officials contrasts with the government response in countries including the US and the UK, where the virus is still circulating among the general population.

China has successfully “flattened the curve” in recent months.

After passing 80,000 confirmed cases at the start of March, it has added only around 4,700 since then .

Since mid-June, new infections have been mostly limited to Beijing with some spill over into neighbouring Hebei.

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 abroad.

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