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In unprecedented move, China locks down megacity to curb virus spread

Medical staff of Union Hospital affiliated to Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology attend a ceremony to form a "assault team" in the fight against the pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, Jan. 22, 2019.

Wuhan, Xinhua | 2020-01-23 Thrusday

China locked down Wuhan, a megacity with a population of over 10 million, Thursday in an unprecedented effort to curb the spread of a deadly novel coronavirus.

From 10 a.m. Thursday, all public transportation, including city buses, subways, ferries and long-distance coaches in Wuhan in central China have been suspended, and outbound channels at airports and railway stations have also been closed until further notice.

Citizens should not leave the megacity without specific reasons, according to a notice issued in the wee hours of Thursday by Wuhan’s headquarters for the control and treatment of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus.

A staff member checks a passenger’s body temperature at Wangjiadun metro station in Wuhan, 9 a.m. Jan. 23, 2020.

At about 10:15 a.m. Thursday, all metro stations in the city have been closed. A Xinhua reporter went to a public transport hub and was told all buses “returned to the parking lot by 11:00 a.m.”

All the entrances at the Wuhan Railway Station and many expressway entrances in Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located, have been closed. Some passengers are stranded at the stations or airports.

As medical consumables such as surgical masks, protective clothing and disinfectant are running short, the Red Cross Society of China’s Wuhan branch opened 24-hour hotlines to receive donated emergency stocks.

Yan Fei, 40, is a local salesman in Wuhan. He took the No. 208 bus this morning to go to work. “I left home at around 8:30 a.m. and all passengers on board the bus wore masks,” he said.

Since there will be no buses operating when he gets off work, Yan said he will “just walk back home as exercise.”

Wearing a proper mask is an effective way to avoid infection, according to medical experts. The authorities in Wuhan, therefore, have demanded that all residents in Wuhan wear masks in public places.

“Staff of state organs, enterprises and institutions shall wear masks at work, and operators of public venues should set up eye-catching signs to request residents to put on masks before entering,” said a notice issued by the Wuhan municipal government. “Those who disregard the warning will be punished according to relevant laws and regulations,” it added.

Citizens purchase vegetables at a market in Wuhan, Jan. 23, 2020.

Many local residents are busy purchasing food and daily necessities for the upcoming Spring Festival. According to the provincial commerce department, the province will strengthen the monitoring of grain, oil, meat, eggs and vegetables, increase stocks during the Spring Festival holiday to ensure stable supply, and intensify environmental sanitation control.

“About 70 percent of the vegetables in Wuhan come from other provinces and regions. The price has gone up slightly, but there has been no panic-buying,” said a local vendor in Wuchang District of the city.


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