Amy Cheng

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.

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