On Sunday, more than 10,000 families gathered in Wuhan for a banquet, sharing dishes including spicy duck necks and braised prawns, in a tradition the government had held for years to mark the Lunar New Year.

Days later, Beijing made the unprecedented decision to lock down the city of 11 million people, shutting public transportation, movie theaters, internet cafes and other cultural centers, in an effort to contain the spread of a virus that has killed at least 18 people.

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