Chinese province, cities ban long-distance buses over virus concerns

Chinese province, cities ban long-distance buses over virus concerns

Qingdao, Shangdong
A pedestrian talks over her mobile phone while crossing a street in Qingdao, eastern China's Shandong province. (Photo: AFP/Fred Dufour)

BEIJING: One province and three major cities in China will ban long-distance buses, authorities said on Sunday (Jan 26), as they scramble to contain a deadly new virus that has spread across the country.

The eastern Shandong province, with a population of 100 million people, will suspend long-distance buses entering the province, state broadcaster CCTV reported, following the announcement of similar measures in the cities of Tianjin, Beijing and Xi'an.

Inter-city buses in the province will only be allowed to leave if stations have temperature screening measures, CCTV said.

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

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From 6pm (1000 GMT) Sunday, Xi'an will suspend long-distance buses and tourist chartered buses entering the city of 10 million people, local officials said on the Twitter-like Weibo platform, following the announcement of similar measures in Tianjin and Beijing.

Inter-city taxis will be suspended, except those from the city's airport, the statement said.

The measures are to stop the spread of the virus through "passenger transport by road and taxis", officials said.

Several cities and regions across China have announced travel restrictions to control the virus that has infected nearly 2,000 people and killed 56.

The strictest measures have been imposed on Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, where people are not allowed to leave the city.

Transport bans have been placed in many other cities in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, affecting some 56 million people.

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

Beijing announced it will suspend bus services entering and exiting the Chinese capital's boundary from Sunday, and the northern city of Tianjin will suspend long-distance buses and chartered buses that enter and leave the city starting Monday.

The southern city of Shantou announced a partial lockdown on Sunday, the first such measure taken outside the epicentre of the disease.

From midnight, non-emergency vehicles will be prohibited from entering the city of 5.6 million people, which is a 1,100-kilometre drive from Wuhan.

People arriving at Shantou train stations will be screened and "urged to return", said city authorities.

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Source: AFP/mn

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