China's Wuhan to suspend outgoing transport over virus outbreak: media

23, Jan. 2020

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BEIJING, Kyodo - Authorities in the central China city of Wuhan said Thursday they will suspend long-distance public transportation services with the aim of preventing the spread of a new coronavirus believed to have originated in the city, Chinese state-run media reported.

The municipal authorities will stop outgoing services at the airport and railway stations from 10 a.m., and the city's subway and bus services will also be suspended, the report said.

Additionally, the authorities have asked local residents not to leave the city except in special circumstances, the report indicated.

The city took the rare step of restricting travel in an effort to contain the disease.

The announcement comes as the new coronavirus appears to be spreading rapidly, with state-run media reporting Wednesday that 17 people have died and about 550 patients have been infected in China, while cases have also been confirmed elsewhere in Asia and the United States.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization convened an emergency meeting in Geneva on whether to declare an international emergency over the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

But participants failed to reach a conclusion in their initial talks and decided to extend the gathering to Thursday.

The international community has become wary as many Chinese people are expected to travel within China and abroad during the Lunar New Year holiday from Friday to Jan. 30.

Coronaviruses usually cause common-cold symptoms affecting the nose, sinuses or upper throat, and are spread through sneezing, coughing or direct contact.

Some types, however, lead to more serious, sometimes deadly respiratory diseases like severe acute respiratory syndrome or Middle East respiratory syndrome, known as SARS and MERS, respectively.

SARS emerged and raged in China in 2003 and then spread worldwide, killing 774 people. (Kyodo)