COVID cases have doubled in a Chinese city where travel has been banned with officials claiming the new outbreak was imported from Europe.
Shijiazhuang, the capital of northern China's Hebei Province which surrounds Beijing, has the highest numbers seen in China in over five months.
The city has reported over 100 new Covid cases, according to authorities.
Hebei reported 19 local infections and 43 asymptomatic cases between January 2 and January 4, according to data from the provincial health commission.
The spike in new cases is thought to be driven by family clusters.
Feng Zijian, deputy director of the Chines Center for Disease Control (CDC) and prevention said that the outbreak was likely sparked by a virus strain "imported from Europe," but provided no evidence for the claims.
As a result of the outbreak, a city-wide lockdown has been imposed.
Transport links have been restricted, bus routes halted and a number of flights cancelled.
All schools must move their teaching online from Wednesday., and boarding schools which still have students must be sealed off.
The the Shijiazhuang government ordered all residential compounds and villages to conduct "close-off management," at a press conference on Tuesday night.
They also told locals to avoid gathering and demanded that transport stations, wet markets, shopping malls and hotels tighten their surveillance of traffic flows.
The Hebei daily reported that the province had entered 'wartime mode' to combat the crisis.
This means investigation teams would be set up at provincial, city and district levels to trace the close contacts of those who have tested positive.
In turn, the close contacts of those people would also be located, the newspaper said, adding that isolation measures would be put in place and testing carried out.
The city has given COVID-19 tests to 52,784 citizens since Tuesday night.
More than 5,000 testing sites have been set up in the city so that all residents can be tested.
Chinese video outlet Pear Video released footage showing health workers in full-body protective gear giving throat swabs to residents of Shijiazhuang's Xiaoguozhuang Village, which has been marked as a 'high risk' area.
Xingtai, a city close to Shijiazhuang, has also stepped up its restrictions after three residents tested positive on Monday.
Feng added that experts from the Chinese CDC and National Health Commission had arrived in both cities to instruct on the local governments' counter-virus efforts.
Three officials in Shijiazhuang's Gaocheng district have been punished for 'negligence,' according to China Daily.
Numbers are on the rise nationally too, and 33 new cases have been reported in mainland China on January 4, according to the National Health Commission.
They also reported that 14 of the 17 domestic cases were recorded in Hebei, and 16 cases were imported from overseas.
The report went onto say that Hebei would resolutely act as the 'political moat' around Beijing and strictly prevent the virus from spreading outside the province.
To impose this, even Shijiazhuang's postal service has been suspended for three days.
Covid-19 was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019, before exploding into a global pandemic.
Since then, more than 85.66million people have been infected globally and 1,854,372 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
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