Story at a glance

  • China has placed travel restrictions on 35 million residents.
  • The government has suspended public transportation services covering more than half the population of the Hubei Province, where the virus is believed to have originated.
  • Authorities say the coronavirus has killed 26 and infected more than 830.

China is restricting travel for 35 million people across at least 12 cities near the center of the coronavirus outbreak in an effort to contain the flu-like virus that has sickened more than 830 people and left at least 26 dead.

The New York Times reports the restrictions were put into place Friday, just one day after China restricted travel in and out of Wuhan, the city of 11 million people where the virus is believed to have originated, and four other nearby cities in the Hubei Province. By Friday, restrictions were announced in at least eight other cities.

The Times reports Shanghai Disneyland and other tourist sites across China plan to shut down. 

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Public health authorities in Wuhan declared a “state of war” as they locked down the city and barricaded entrances to rail stations. Trains and planes in and out of the city were suspended, as was subway and bus service. 

This all comes on the eve of large-scale lunar new year festivities, which are scheduled to run from Saturday to Feb. 8. Beijing scrapped plans for new year events in order to reduce mass gatherings of people. 

The death toll from the coronavirus rose by more than a half-dozen in 24 hours, while the number of confirmed cases jumped by more than 200. Most of the deaths have taken place in Hubei Province, in central China. 

The disease has also been detected in Nepal, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States. 

Dr. Gauden Galea, the representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Beijing, told the Times Friday that health officials are preparing for an outbreak that could last months, saying thousands of people will likely be infected. 

“My own office is gearing up for a number of months,” Galea said. “We do not expect it to disappear in a number of days.” 

WHO decided Thursday against declaring the coronavirus a global public health emergency for now, claiming it’s too early to make the declaration.

Published on Jan 24, 2020