Hangzhou and Taizhou, cities far from virus epicentre, implement travel restrictions

Hangzhou and Taizhou, cities far from virus epicentre, implement travel restrictions

Officials monitor thermal scanners as passengers walk past upon arrival of a flight from Hangzhou,
Officials monitor thermal scanners as passengers walk past upon arrival of a flight at Changi Airport in Singapore on Jan 22, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Yiming Woo)

BEIJING: Two more cities in China's eastern province of Zhejiang have restricted the movement of residents over fears of the spread of the coronavirus, far from the epicentre of the health emergency.

The city of Taizhou, three Hangzhou districts - including the area home to the main office of Chinese tech giant Alibaba - and some in Ningbo will only allow one person per household to go outside every two days to buy necessities, city officials said.

More than 12 million people are affected by the new restrictions.

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Taizhou - 850km from the epicentre in Hubei province - will also suspend 95 train services into the city from Tuesday (Feb 4).

Map locating the eastern Chinese cities Taizhou and Hangzhou in Zhejiang province virus lockdown

In addition, all residential communities must only keep one entrance open and residents must present ID each time they come in and out, according to a statement on Taizhou's government's official WeChat account.

Landlords were also forbidden from renting property to people from "severely affected areas such as Hubei" if they had travelled to their hometowns recently, it added.

In the Hangzhou districts, additional measures included mandatory mask wearing and compulsory ID and temperature checks.

On Monday, Hangzhou's Yuhang district also said it would suspend buses, taxis, shuttle buses, and airport lines until further notice.

In Taizhou, public bus services were suspended at the end of January, while Ningbo closed the entrances of nine highways last Wednesday.

The latest restrictions follow similar measures announced on Sunday in Wenzhou, which has a population of 9 million people.

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The city has restricted the movement of residents and closed roads.

Zhejiang province has confirmed 829 cases - the highest number outside Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak and where more than 50 million people are under lockdown.

Other provinces have restricted travel to try to stop the virus spreading, with several - including Guangdong and Sichuan - making it compulsory to wear masks in public.

Nationwide, more than 20,000 people have been infected by the new virus, with 425 now known to have died.

Hong Kong reported its first death from the newly identified coronavirus on Tuesday, the second fatality outside mainland China.

The Hong Kong fatality brought the total death toll from the virus to 427, including a man who died in the Philippines last week after visiting Wuhan.

READ: China to allow in US health experts as coronavirus shows no sign of slowing

The total number of infections in China rose by 3,235 to 20,438, and there were at least 151 cases in 23 other countries and regions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global emergency, although experts say much is still unknown about the pathogen, including its mortality rate and transmission pathways.

Such uncertainties are leading some countries to take extreme measures to stem the spread of the virus.

Australia sent hundreds of evacuees from Wuhan to a remote island in the Indian Ocean, while Japan ordered the quarantine of a cruise ship carrying more than 3,000 people after a Hong Kong man who sailed on it last month tested positive for coronavirus.

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Source: Agencies/hm

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