Hebei province moved ahead with strict lockdown measures Tuesday despite recording a large drop in new COVID-19 infections as authorities look to prevent another mass outbreak in China's capital city.

A total of 55 new cases were reported in China on Tuesday, according to the National Health Commission - nearly half the number of infections reported the day before.

While all of China saw a reduction in new cases the capital region accounted for the bulk of these infections with 42 including one in Beijing and another in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang. Hebei province is near Beijing.

Asymptomatic cases, which China authorities don't add to the confirmed coronavirus infection tally, rose from 76 to 81 across the country.

Officials moved quickly to contain a possible outbreak in cities surrounding Beijing and put 4.9 million residents in the capital's outskirts under home quarantine for a week with mass virus testing to follow.

Likewise, 11 million inhabitants of Hebei provincial capital Shijazhuang are now under tight lockdown. Roads into the city are closed and vehicles are being instructed to turn back.

Incoming and outgoing travelers to Shijazhuang will be required to show a negative nucleic acid test taken up to 72 hours before their flight or train departures, the local airport said last week.

The Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control issued recommendations to suspend taxi and ride-hailing services around the province Tuesday and encouraged drivers to take a weekly nucleic acid test.

However, the number of daily cases remains only a fraction of what China experienced during the virus' peak in early 2020 - which culminated in 4,634 deaths across the country according to government reports.

Worldwide, COVID has claimed nearly 2 million lives to date and with more than 47 million active cases deaths are not slowing.

To prevent infections countries are administering vaccines - concentrating on the elderly and populations with preexisting conditions.