China's Huanggang locked down over Wuhan virus; Ezhou stops trains

China's Huanggang locked down over Wuhan virus; Ezhou stops trains

Children wear masks at the Hong Kong West Kowloon High Speed Train Station
Children wear masks to prevent an outbreak of a new coronavirus at the Hong Kong West Kowloon High Speed Train Station, in Hong Kong, China January 23, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

BEIJING: Huanggang on Thursday became the second Chinese city to go into lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak that has killed 17 people and infected more than 630.

Health authorities in the city of around 7.5 million, which is 70km from the central city of Wuhan where the outbreak is centered, said they would suspend public bus and railway operations from midnight.

They also ordered indoor entertainment venues including movie theatres and internet cafes to shut, and asked citizens not to leave the city other than under special circumstances.

Another nearby city, Ezhou, said on Thursday it had shut its train stations.

Huanggang had reported 12 cases of the coronavirus as of the end of Monday.

Health officials fear the transmission rate will accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during week-long holidays for the Chinese New Year, which begins on Saturday.

Wuhan is already on lockdown, shutting all urban transport networks and suspending outgoing flights from Thursday.

READ: Last flight from Wuhan: 'Everyone was wearing masks'

READ: 'Verge of tears': Residents of virus-hit Wuhan call for support amid worries of food shortages

The previously unknown virus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan.

There is no vaccine for the virus, which can spread through respiratory transmission. Symptoms include fever, difficulty in breathing and cough, similar to many other respiratory illnesses.

Preliminary research suggested the virus was passed on to humans from snakes, but government medical adviser Zhong Nanshan has also identified badgers and rats as possible sources. Confirmed sufferers include 15 medical workers.

Of eight known cases of the virus worldwide, Thailand has confirmed four, while Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States have reported one each.

MORE: Our coverage of the Wuhan virus and its developments

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Source: Reuters/AFP/ec

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