On Thursday, January 23, authorities extended travel restrictions currently in place in Wuhan, Ezhou, and Huanggong (Hubei province) to the nearby cities of Chibi and Zhijiang to curb the spread of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) which originated in Wuhan in December 2019. All train and bus services will be suspended in the abovementioned cities by Thursday evening (local time). All train, ferry, flight, and long-distance bus services were suspended and tolls on the roadways were closed in Wuhan at 10:00 on Thursday.
The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has killed 17 people as of January 23. On Thursday, health officials confirmed that the number of cases confirmed throughout China has increased to 571. Most cases have been recorded in the city of Wuhan. According to media reports, security forces have deployed to transportation hubs to prevent individuals from attempting to leave the city. Authorities have also ordered residents to wear masks in public places. All celebrations and public gatherings related to the Lunar New Year have been canceled as a precaution. Further restrictions on travel and movement throughout the city may be implemented in the coming days. Local authorities have urged residents to not leave the city and warned visitors to not travel to Wuhan.
On Thursday, authorities announced the cancelation of all Lunar New Year celebrations in Beijing to curb further spread of the disease. New Year festivities typically draw hundreds of thousands of people to the capital.
Cases have been reported in 25 provinces in China, including urban centers such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Macau, and Hong Kong. Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have also been confirmed. Stricter measures are expected to be implemented in hospitals to protect staff from the outbreak.
On Wednesday, January 22, the CDC issued a Level 2 health alert warning individuals who are in or who recently returned from Wuhan to "practice enhanced precautions." The World Health Organization (WHO) is holding an emergency panel in Geneva (Switzerland) on Thursday to decide if the outbreak should be classified as a "public health emergency of international concern."
As of January 22, cases of the virus have been confirmed in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and the US, and suspected cases have been reported in Singapore, Mexico, and Australia. Fever screening measures are being implemented at airports throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America, Australia, the Middle East, and the US.
Further spread of the illness is possible over the near term, particularly during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals in China, particularly those in Hubei province, are advised to monitor the situation and anticipate additional security checks at airports. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
- Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
- Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
- Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
- Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
- Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
- Travelers returning from China and developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spreading the disease