Hebei capital suspends public transport as China reports 33 new COVID-19 cases

SHANGHAI: Chinese authorities halted public transport in a provincial capital near Beijing on Saturday in an effort to stamp out a new cluster of coronavirus infections.

Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province surrounding Beijing, suspended service on the city's subway, then extended the ban to all public transport, including taxis. The province entered a "wartime mode" this week to battle the infections.

The National Health Commission reported 33 new COVID-19 cases for mainland China on Jan. 8, down from 53 reported a day earlier. The authority said in a statement that 14 of the 17 locally transmitted infections were in Hebei.

Authorities on Thursday banned people from leaving Shijiazhuang. The city is launching mass testing of its 11 million people.

Municipal authorities told residents on Friday they must stay home for at least seven days even after they complete a nucleic acid test.

The health commission also reported 38 new asymptomatic cases, down from 57 a day earlier. China does not classify these patients, who have been infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease but are not yet showing any COVID-19 symptoms, as confirmed cases.