Chinese government quarantines city of Wuhan over coronavirus outbreak

The Chinese government announced Wednesday it will quarantine the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of a breakout of coronavirus. 

The announcement, shared on Chinese state media, indicated the city will cancel planes and trains leaving the city beginning Thursday and suspend buses, subways and ferries. 

“Public #transportation such as bus, subway, ferry and long-distance bus in Wuhan will be temporarily closed since 10am Thursday. All flights and trains departed from #Wuhan will be temporarily cancelled to reduce risk of spread of the new virus, local govt says. #coronavirus,” state media outlet China Daily reported. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The quarantine of the city, which is home to over 11 million people, comes just before the Lunar New Year, which is widely celebrated across China and sparks the largest annual migration of people.

The escalation in the fight against the new coronavirus comes as officials struggle to contain the outbreak. At least 17 people have died from the illness so far, with over 555 confirmed cases.

Dozens of cases have been identified in other major Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, with cases also appearing in Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States. 

A man in Washington state was the first person in the U.S. to have a confirmed case of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Tuesday that the 30-year-old man had recently traveled from Wuhan. 

It is still unclear how the virus is spread between people. To prevent further contractions of the illness, the CDC will screen passengers from Wuhan who are arriving at international airports in Atlanta and Chicago. Screenings already began last week at international airports in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

While the virus is common in animals such as bats, cats and camels, it can be spread to humans in rare instances known as spillover events.