China locked down 50 million people and has to keep them fed
BEIJING (AP) — Carrying permits demanding “fast passage,” truck drivers rushed a 560-ton shipment of disinfectant from eastern China to Wuhan, the locked-down city of 11 million people at the center of a vast effort to contain a new viral disease.
Outside the metropolis in central China, the cargo was shifted to local trucks with drivers in masks and protective suits, part of a tightly controlled flow of food and other supplies through checkpoints that have blocked most access to Wuhan since Jan. 23.
As global anxiety about the new virus rises, authorities have blocked 50 million people from leaving Wuhan and nearby cities at the center of the outbreak. That in turn requires a massive effort to keep them supplied with food and other necessities.
“Wuhan is not an isolated island,” declared a state newspaper, the Yangtze Daily.
Few governments could attempt such drastic restrictions on a population bigger than South Korea's or Australia's. They are made possible by the ruling Communist Party's extensive controls on society and experience combating the 2002-03 SARS epidemic.
Some trucks are allowed to leave the 17 locked-down cities to collect food. Photos in state media show them lined up at checkpoints, their drivers wearing face masks. Police, shrouded in white protective suits, examine the drivers for the virus's telltale fever. Those without passes are turned back.
Schools, cinemas and restaurants are closed in Wuhan, an industrial center with a population 1 1/2 times that of New York City. To keep people at home and reduce chances for infection, subway and bus services are shut down and private vehicle use is banned in downtown areas.
The government of Hubei province, where all the cities are located, has promised adequate supplies of vegetables, rice,...