Paranoia and frustration as China places itself under house arrest

Cities are becoming ghost towns, while at the heart of the outbreak people are being disinfected after taking the bins out Last week, in the last few days of China’s lunar new year holiday, the streets of Beijing were decorated with fairy lights and glowing red lanterns, but eerily empty. Normally busy restaurant and bar strips were dark. Residential compounds, often lax in their security, closed their gates, with guards ordering anyone entering to register and have their temperature taken. Public buses carried only a few passengers. Those restaurants that were open were mostly empty, with only small groups of diners. At Beijing Capital airport, staff, including some health workers in full hazmat suits, outnumbered passengers. “It’s weird of people,” said Li, 42, a teacher from Beijing who has remained in the city since the outbreak of the coronavirus. “This isn’t Beijing. Beijing always has a lot of people. Right now the roads, restaurants and malls are all empty.” She spends her days at home cooking and