Wuhan virus: What's China doing to contain the outbreak?

Wuhan virus: What's China doing to contain the outbreak?

The outbreak of the deadly virus comes days before the Lunar New Year festival, with millions of
The outbreak of the deadly virus comes days before the Chinese New Year holidays, with millions of people beginning to travel in China. (Photo: AFP/NICOLAS ASFOURI)

BEIJING: China is stepping up measures to control a coronavirus outbreak that has affected about 2,000 people and killed more than 50.

The virus, which affects the respiratory system, was first reported in the city of Wuhan, in Hubei province. It caused global concern due to its similarity to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed hundreds in mainland China and Hong Kong from 2002 to 2003.

Here's what China has been doing as it struggles to contain the virus that has spread within the country and overseas. 

READ: Wuhan virus death toll surpasses 50 in China, more than 300 new cases

CITIES SHUT DOWN, TRANSPORT SUSPENDED

Thirteen cities have been quarantined in an attempt to contain the virus.

Transport such as trains, buses and passenger boats were halted from leaving and entering Wuhan as the city was placed under effective lockdown.

Those already on their way have been ordered to return to their starting points.

READ: China halts flights and trains out of Wuhan as WHO extends talks

READ: Vast Wuhan virus quarantine in China as cases emerge in Europe, South Asia

Airlines, including Singapore Airlines’ budget arm Scoot, have cancelled flights in and out of the city.

Other cities in Hubei province – such as Zhijiang, Xiantao and Huanggang – have also experienced lockdowns and transport closures, affecting about 56 million people. The province has announced it will stop operating online taxis and impose passenger restrictions on the roads.

READ: China's quarantine efforts spread to 13 cities as virus toll climbs; 41 million people affected

The southern city of Shantou announced a partial lockdown on Jan 26, the first city to implement such a measure outside the epicentre for the disease.

Authorities in Beijing, Xi’an and Tianjin have also announced they are suspending long-distance and chartered buses that enter and leave their cities.

Passengers are screened with thermal scanners at Hankou railway station in Wuhan
Passengers are screened with thermal scanners at Hankou railway station in Wuhan, China. (AFP Photo)

NEW POP-UP HOSPITALS, MILITARY INVOLVEMENT

The Chinese government has dispatched 450 military medics to Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus. This is in response to the rising number of cases in the city, where hospitals are overwhelmed and medical supplies are running low.  

Many of these medics are experienced in dealing with infectious diseases such as SARS and Ebola.

READ: China deploys army medics to overwhelmed virus epicentre

People waiting at a hospital in Wuhan said they have been waiting hours, even days, to see the doctor.

The city is building two makeshift hospitals to add hundreds of beds to meet demand. Work on the first facility began on Friday (Jan 24) and it could be ready in just over a week, say state media.

China Wuhan virus new hospital
This aerial photo on Jan 24, 2020 shows excavators and trucks at the construction site of a new hospital being built to treat patients from a deadly virus outbreak in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. (Photo: STR/AFP)  

It is being built around a holiday complex originally intended for local workers. Prefabricated buildings, which will have 1,000 beds, will be put up, said the Changjiang Daily.

"The construction of this project is to solve the shortage of existing medical resources," the report said. "Because it will be prefabricated buildings, it will not only be built fast but it also won't cost much."

ATTRACTIONS CLOSED, EVENTS CANCELLED

Several tourist spots in the country have been shut down as a result of the outbreak.

Shanghai Disneyland said on its website it would temporarily close from Saturday "in response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak and in order to ensure the health and safety" of its guests and staff.

In Beijing, the Forbidden City and part of the Great Wall will also be closed down to control the spread of the virus. Gatherings at temples over the New Year holiday has been cancelled as well.

READ: Beijing to close section of Great Wall, other tourist sites

Other cities have announced the closure of entertainment facilities and public venues.

Canadian acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil cancelled its performances in Hangzhou over concerns about the outbreak, following Chinese officials’ request to close all indoor activities with 100 or more people in attendance.

WILDLIFE TRADE BANNED

China on Jan 26 imposed a nationwide ban on wildlife trade in markets, supermarkets, restaurants and e-commerce platforms due to the virus outbreak.

Raising, transporting or selling all wild animal species is forbidden "from the date of the announcement until the national epidemic situation is over", said a joint directive from three top agencies including the Ministry of Agriculture.

Any place that breeds wildlife should be isolated, the statement added.

The virus was traced to a seafood market in Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife.

MORE: Our coverage on the Wuhan virus and its developments

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Source: CNA/Agencies/ga

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