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Two scenarios emerge in lockdown city

By LI LEI and ZHANG YU in Shijiazhuang | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-01-20 07:16
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A worker disinfects passengers at Shijiazhuang Railway Station, Hebei province. WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY

Unity the key as Shijiazhuang battles virus

After two consecutive weeks of double-digit rises in the number of COVID-19 cases in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, two different stories have emerged in the city.

In the first, the streets of the provincial capital, which has a population of 11 million, have been left eerily deserted by a sweeping stay-at-home order that has been extended twice in the past two weeks and was due to end on Tuesday night.

The second story tells of bustling activities in local communities as residents unite to help one another.

On Jan 7, the city's Vice-Mayor Meng Xianghong announced a ban on outbound travel in the run-up to Spring Festival next month.

The order has left the waiting room at Shijiazhuang Railway Station, a major transportation hub in North China, almost empty.

This sprawling area is usually full of jostling crowds at this time of year as millions of people begin traveling to family homes in what sociologists have dubbed the "greatest annual human migration on Earth".

In March 2019, a local newspaper reported that the station had safely handled 4.7 million rail trips during the 40-day travel peak straddling the Spring Festival celebrations.

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