89.1 WEMU

Amy Cheng

The Chinese port city of Qingdao is under soft lockdown after a cluster of 13 COVID-19 cases was discovered last weekend.

In the past five days, health authorities say they conducted more than 10 million coronavirus tests of all Qingdao residents, all of which came back negative. Still, residents have been asked to remain at home, flights to Beijing have been canceled and travelers from Qingdao to other parts of China must quarantine.

This year was supposed to be a good year for selling bamboo rats to eat. Prices had been rising steadily as had their popularity as a delicacy when grilled.

Then the coronavirus hit.

"People nowadays are always talking about poverty alleviation. But now, I'm close to being in extreme poverty," said Liu Ping, a breeder of bamboo rats — plump rodents known for their sharp, bamboo-gnawing incisors and ample flesh.

A seafood vendor among the first people infected by the novel coronavirus has a change of heart over what is important in life.

A doctor who treated some of the first patients still puzzles over why the virus behaves the way it does.

A psychologist worries about the deep, lasting emotional strains from the outbreak.

A survivor seeks justice for his mother's death, though he knows his lawsuit against the authorities will likely never go to trial.

For nearly two months, the Chinese capital, a city of more than 20 million people, did not report a single local case of the coronavirus. But a recent spike in confirmed cases has officials in Beijing afraid they're staring down a new outbreak — and they are responding with swift and sweeping measures to contain it.

Since the coronavirus pandemic battered China's economy, tens of millions of urban and factory jobs have evaporated.

Some workers and business owners have banded together to pressure companies or local governments for subsidies and payouts.

But many of the newly unemployed have instead returned to their rural villages. China's vast countryside now serves as an unemployment sponge, soaking up floating migrant workers in temporary agricultural work on small family plots.

In early February, China's ruling Communist Party was facing one of its biggest political crises in more than three decades. A rapidly spreading outbreak of the new coronavirus was a "massive risk and challenge" to social stability, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned top party officials in an internal speech that was later published publicly.

More than two months after he watched his father die of the new coronavirus, Zhang Hai has yet to bury him. The 50-year-old Wuhan native wants to pay his last respects alone — but that's now against government rules.

"[My father's] work unit called and made it very clear that I have to be accompanied when I retrieve the ashes," Zhang recalled. "Maybe they are well-intentioned, but I just want to collect my father's ashes alone before burying him. I do not want to have strangers around."

Tens of thousands of people streamed out of Wuhan by car, train and plane after a 76-day lockdown was lifted Wednesday from the Chinese city where the global coronavirus pandemic began.

Beijing's parks are an oasis in an otherwise dense and sprawling city. They provide a rare public space for people to ribbon dance, play checkers and practice tai chi. But in January and February, they were deserted. More than 80,000 people across China were sickened with the virus and strict quarantine measures locked down villages and cities, including Beijing.

In February, China's leader Xi Jinping declared himself the "supreme commander" in a war against the new coronavirus. But the public face of China's efforts to contain the outbreak is not Xi: it is an 83-year-old, weight-lifting doctor.

Dr. Zhong Nanshan has long been a household name in China. The pulmonologist holds no formal office — but over the past three months has become the face of China's virus containment efforts, cutting through public confusion and online disinformation about SARS-CoV-2.

A spate of mysterious second-time infections is calling into question the accuracy of COVID-19 diagnostic tools even as China prepares to lift quarantine measures to allow residents to leave the epicenter of its outbreak next month. It's also raising concerns of a possible second wave of cases.

Li Wenliang, the ophthalmologist whose early warnings about the coronavirus earned him a reprimand from Chinese authorities, is finally receiving justice — albeit posthumously. Authorities in the country are apologizing to his family and dropping their reprimand, six weeks after his death from the disease caused by the virus.

As new cases of coronavirus infection slow in China, the country is gradually getting back to work. Authorities and businesses are taking a range of measures: Local governments are chartering buses for workers. Some companies are buying out entire hotels to house quarantined staff. A temporarily shuttered movie studio is even loaning employees to factories that are short on labor.

Victor Yu is not one of the more than 2,500 people who the Chinese government says were killed by the coronavirus. The 47-year-old resident of Wuhan, epicenter of the outbreak, died Feb. 19 from complications related to renal carcinoma, a common type of kidney cancer. But his family believes that his untimely death is likely related to the coronavirus outbreak.

China has put more than half a billion people under partial or total lockdown in what it is calling an all-out "people's war" against the spread of the new coronavirus. It's equivalent to restricting the movement of the entire population of North America.

More than a month and a half into the outbreak of a new coronavirus in China, the country's economy is still largely in lockdown mode, stalling a global manufacturing powerhouse at the heart of nearly every industrial supply chain. As the crisis continues, businesses big and small are struggling with the disruption the pneumonia-like illness has caused, with effects reaching across the globe.

For the last two weeks, Eden Chen had been glued to her WeChat. A resident of the Chinese coastal city of Wenzhou, Chen and her family had been told to stay indoors, sending only one member out every other day to buy groceries. WeChat, the ubiquitous social media app in China, became an indispensable channel for checking up on relatives, exchanging information about quarantine measures and even getting on a waiting list to order now-scarce face masks.

Updated at 8:41 p.m. ET

Millions of people in China have been returning home from the Lunar New Year holiday and heading back to work. The holiday's end date was extended in many cities, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, to help slow down the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak.

Updated at 7:19 p.m. ET

First came Liu Xiaohong's fever and a constant, throbbing ache. Then six days later, on Jan. 31 and with her fever still raging, Liu desperately rushed by bike to the nearest hospital; taxi services had been suspended days earlier as part of a citywide lockdown.

Doctors did a CT scan of Liu's lungs and concluded that day that she likely had the new coronavirus. Twelve days after falling ill, Liu is now waiting in a makeshift isolation ward for confirmation from a virus screening test so she can finally be admitted to a hospital.

Updated at 7:55 p.m. ET

The 24 American students who signed up for Middlebury College's spring language program housed at Beijing's Capital Normal University were expecting tough homework assignments in Mandarin and a chance to explore a new country on weekend trips.

More than a dozen cities in the Chinese province of Hubei are under official lockdown. And some cities and villages are taking it upon themselves to seal off their communities — even if their actions aren't legal.

It's all to prevent the spread of a new strain of coronavirus that has killed over 130 people and sickened more than 5,900 in China.

What do these measures consist of? And do scientists think they will help contain this rapidly spreading virus?

The strictest quarantine is in Wuhan, a city of 11 million that's the epicenter of the outbreak.

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

Wuhan's public health authorities say they are in a "state of war" as they quarantine the Chinese city in an attempt to halt the spread of a never-before-seen strain of coronavirus.

"Strictly implement emergency response requirements, enter into a state of war and implement wartime measures to resolutely curb the spread of this epidemic," urged a committee of Wuhan's top officials. "Homes must be segregated, neighbors must be watched."

It wasn't just the fact that one of China's best universities had changed its charter last December to emphasize loyalty to the ruling Communist Party that raised eyebrows. Shanghai's Fudan University also deleted principles like freedom of thought, and did so publicly, as if expecting praise.

Furious students staged a rare and risky protest in the school cafeteria in December. They sang the school's anthem, which praises academic freedom.

When Liu, a 31-year-old Chinese insurance firm manager, learned she was pregnant in 2017, she resolved to keep her baby.

She tried to hide the fact that she was unmarried and pregnant from her colleagues at the private insurance firm where she works in Shanghai. She paid her own hospital bills rather than rely on public insurance and risk exposing her secret to the hospital and her employer.

Late one Saturday night in August, young men and women crowded into a pop-up pub deep in a narrow Beijing alley. They were gathered to talk about an unlikely topic in China: sexual consent.

When the White House decided to levy tariffs on goods from China, U.S. leaders were divided on whether a prolonged trade dispute was a wise course of action.

Now, so is Beijing.