China locks down Wuhan, where coronavirus outbreak began, disrupting Lunar New Year travel plans for millions

World Yen Doran 23-Jan-2020
china high speed rail
ID 144727922 © Chon Kit Leong | Dreamstime.com

Authorities in China have enforced a lock-down for people travel in and out of Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, disrupting the Lunar New Year travel plans for millions in order to prevent a global pandemic of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Health officials recognised the risk of virus spreading through the movement of hundreds of millions of Chinese travelling at home and abroad during week-long holidays for Lunar New Year, which begins on Jan. 25.

The government is urging citizens not to leave the city, except in special circumstances.

All urban transport networks will be shut down and outgoing flights from 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Jan. 23 will be suspended. Although some airlines were operating after the deadline.

Major highways also operate guards’ patrolling to monitor private cars leaving the city although the shutdown notice had not mentioned private vehicles.

Taiwan’s China Airlines said it had suspended flights to Wuhan and Hong Kong’s MTR Corp said it had suspended sales of high-speed rail tickets to and from Wuhan.

It is confirmed that the coronavirus outbreak began at a market in Wuhan from illegal transaction with wildlife animals. The virus can spread among people through respiratory transmission. According to China’s National Health Commission  571 cases and 17 deaths have been confirmed.

Airports globally stepped up screening of passengers from China. The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) said in a risk assessment that further global spread of the virus was likely.