More than 20 million people have been quarantined just weeks ahead of the biggest holiday of the year

HONG KONGChina is battling its biggest coronavirus outbreak in months, imposing lockdowns on hard-hit areas, quarantining more than 20 million people and urging citizens to forgo unnecessary travel as the Lunar New Year holiday approaches in February.
The tightening, which comes during northern Chinas coldest winter in a generation, underscores official skittishness nearly a year after authorities shut down the city of Wuhan to contain the initial outbreak.
On Tuesday, Chinas National Health Commission reported 42 new cases of locally transmitted symptomatic infection, a day after recording 85 such casesits highest daily count in six months.
The bulk of the recent cases have been detected in the northern province of Hebei, which surrounds Chinas capital city of Beijing.
On Tuesday, local authorities in the city of Langfang placed its five million residents in home quarantine for seven days while rolling out citywide testing. Authorities had imposed similar measures on the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang last week, barring people and vehicles from leaving the city and halting public transportation within the city.