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China locks down more cities as virus spreads

China locks down more cities as virus spreads
© NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese officials have now locked down three cities in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus outbreak that has infected at least 600 people, according to NBC News.

State media in the cities of Huanggang and Ezhou announced lockdowns on Thursday after officials suspended transportation in Wuhan, the city believed to be the center of the outbreak, the network reported.  Hong Kong authorities have also stopped selling tickets for Wuhan-bound trains.

Huanggang officials also announced temporary shutdowns of movie theaters, internet cafes and other public spaces, Reuters noted, and said every person and car entering or leaving the city center would be inspected.

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As of late Wednesday, Chinese authorities said the virus had infected 571 people and killed 17, with another 393 suspected cases reported, according to the news service. Elsewhere, Thailand has confirmed four cases, while Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the U.S. have each confirmed one.

“To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science. It has not been tried before as a public health measure, so we cannot at this stage say it will or will not work,” Gauden Galea, the World Health Organization’s country representative for China, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

While the lockdown in Wuhan “obviously has social and economic impacts that are considerable,” he said, it also “demonstrates a very strong public health commitment and a willingness to take dramatic action.”