new and deadly SARS-like virus, the Chinese government has taken the unprecedented step of locking down Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.n an attempt to curb the spread of a
At 10 am on Thursday, all public transit across the city shut down, including buses, subways, and ferries. Meanwhile, all outbound flights and train departures were similarly suspended with no word yet when they will resume.
On highways leading into and out of the city, roadblocks have been set up with police conducting temperature checks on travelers. All residents have been advised not to leave Wuhan unless for a special reason.
The city government announced this effective quarantine in a notice very early on Thursday morning, giving residents an abrupt and brief grace period to try to leave the city. People soon flocked to train stations, trying to get the last ticket out of town.
Inside Wuhan airport, people are queueing for flight check-ins.
In the early morning, the local authorities announced to suspend the city’s public transportations from Jan 23 10am. #WuhanCoronavirus #WuhanPneumonia pic.twitter.com/KHUxR6cRIJ
— Lea Li (@Lealokkk) January 22, 2020
Wuhan, where even a flowing red robe won't get you into the station if your ticket is after 10am pic.twitter.com/7NnCqZDV7r
— Tom Hancock (@hancocktom) January 23, 2020
Pictures and videos of Wuhan city in lockdown are circulating on internet in China. People of Wuhan are making sacrifices. No matter how all this happened, I want to express my sympathy and salute to them. pic.twitter.com/8iQWj0RQvd
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) January 23, 2020
Unverified video – the #WuhanCoronavirus shutdown seems to have already started. Friends in chat groups are talking about stocking food asap. I understand it’s to control the #coronavirus from spreading, but it’s shocking to quarantine an entire city of 9 million people. pic.twitter.com/x4m9GDDL4Z
— Xinyan Yu (@xinyanyu) January 22, 2020
This all comes as a mysterious coronavirus that originated last month in Wuhan has spread across China with the number of confirmed cases rising dramatically each day this week. The total currently stands at 571.
Meanwhile, the virus’ death toll has similarly shot up to 17 with eight new deaths being reported on Wednesday, all in Hubei province where Wuhan is located.
Those stuck in Wuhan have been ordered to wear face masks when venturing out to public places. They will not be admitted entry into restaurants, hotels, cinemas, hair salons, etc, without a face mask on. All large-scale events have been suspended in the city along with all group tours.
The lockdown comes at a particularly inauspicious time with only a few days until the Chinese New Year, an occasion that sees the world’s largest annual human migration as hundreds of millions of people in China travel home to spend the holiday with their families.
— Adam Ni (@adam_ni) January 23, 2020
Unverified video – man with Hubei accent saying that armed police have blocked passengers from entering the train station in Wuhan after the 10am lockdown. #WuhanCoronavirus pic.twitter.com/EC0GTXOhC0
— Xinyan Yu (@xinyanyu) January 23, 2020
Wuhan is one of the country’s biggest transit hubs, making it an extremely inconvenient source of outbreak. Though the virus first appeared last month, transport controls have only been in place this week, meaning that carriers of the virus had weeks to travel out of the city unfettered.
The whole situation can’t help but call to mind the SARS panic of 2002/2003 when more than 600 people died in China from a similar virus. However, even then, no city was put on lockdown.