Amy Cheng

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.

Pages