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What's it like living in China during the coronavirus outbreak?

Tape to mark areas for individuals to stand in elevators has appeared in some parts of the city. Credit: AP

The number of coronavirus cases may be dropping in China but still every week here in Beijing there's been something new, an extra restriction, another form to fill out, an additional card to get into your apartment block.

This weekend at my residential compound we gained some tape in the elevators - creating four squares - for the four people allowed into the lift at any one time to stand in.

We've had these at work for over a week so I've been waiting for them to appear at home.

  • Cordons mark an area for each person to stand within in an elevator:

The four guards on my gate also laid new matting at the entrance which is routinely doused in disinfectant.

Since the beginning of February everyone from the three tower buildings in my compound has had to go in and out of this same gate.

And it's where they have also erected a tent and shelves as a collection point for all our deliveries and post.

As of two weeks ago, we've been given an additional card which confirms we have been in Beijing for at least two weeks and thus are not in quarantine and allowed out of our apartment.

  • Measures in Beijing include restricting access points to building and screening all who pass through:

The day after they introduced the cards - they introduced a curfew, locking the gate with a chain between the hours of midnight and 6am.

Thankfully because I've been issued with the aforementioned new card I've been able to wake the guard up when I've come home from reporting shifts in the middle of the night.

A final restriction placed on our residence was the banning of visitors.

I've joined the millions across the country conducting lessons online as my Mandarin teacher is no longer allowed in for our classes.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know:

ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward photographs some of the measures in place around her accommodation complex.

There's also been a clampdown on numbers in restaurants.

There are still many places closed due to staff being stuck in other provinces or stuck in quarantine, but most of those able to open have enforced a two person, or even one person, per table restriction.

At all of them you are required to have your temperature checked and at some even write down your contact details so that you can be traced.

Tables are also spaces at least 1.5 metres apart.

Several coffee shops have switched to take-away only and/or introduced a policy of having your mask on at all times, except when taking a sip of your drink or bite of food.

Some buildings have brought in lock downs during nighttime hours.

If you ask me, should the UK copy China's containment efforts?

I'd say that these extreme measures do appear to be working and there are lessons to be learned.

But China had to go to the extreme because it ignored early warnings, it allowed the virus to take hold.

The UK should be better placed to deal with a potential epidemic because it has had time to plan and prepare.

It has seen what has worked or failed elsewhere.

Community workers stand near a board which reads 'Outbreak Prevention and Control, Communist Party Member Pioneer station' in Beijing. Credit: AP

There are, however, several reasons why the UK never could introduce the same level of lockdowns and restrictions as China.

First of all manpower.

This is the most populated country in the world; they have people to throw at this problem.

Not only tens of thousands of medics to send to the epicentre in Wuhan, but millions of volunteers to check temperatures and man gates and entrances to shops, offices and houses in every major city and town across the country.

That effort is being aided by technology.

In China identification numbers are linked to everything so your movements are tracked at all times by your phone and the payment made by it.

On Monday morning I was given a new form to fill out restating that I had not left Beijing since January, and they used my phone number to double check I was not lying.

Several friends are having to enter a daily health check into an online database.

If everything checks out they'll get a green flag to enter their work and living compounds.

I’m waiting for that app to become compulsory for me too.

A visitor to a park in Beijing wears a protective mask. Credit: AP

There are of course political and historical reasons why China can get away with this level of monitoring and enforcement.

In a one-party dictatorship you can do what you like and a mixture of fear and loyalty all but guarantees the rules will be followed.

The aforementioned manpower helps with that too.

Here in Beijing many people also still carry the memory of SARS, or Severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed around 350 people in the country in 2004.

It hit the capital hard and that’s why millions of Chinese families have needed no encouragement or government enforcement to stay at home for the past two months.

They have willingly avoided public places and limited themselves to a once per week outing for supplies.

Out and about in Beijing, people wear protective masks as well as headgear. Credit: AP

The question we are asking now is for how long will this go on, and which measures are here to stay?

We are all desperate for this to be over and for China to win its battle against Covid-19 but it seems likely that the methods deployed to contain and control the virus, will become a permanent part of the country’s already extensive monitoring and censorship network.