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  • China Blocks Travel In And Out of Wuhan As New Coronavirus Infections Spread

    Airports in Asia and around the world are on high alert for security screenings.
    by Rachel Perez .
China Blocks Travel In And Out of Wuhan As New Coronavirus Infections Spread
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Chinese authorities have shut down all public transportation in Wuhan City, in Hubei province, where the novel (new) coronavirus (2019-nCOV) was first detected in December 2019. Flights and trains in and out of are now temporarily suspended until further notice as well as public buses, ferries, and long-distance coaches, Reuters reports. The virus has since spread outside the city and outside China.

    Officials urged people to avoid visiting Wuhan, a major transport hub in China and is home to 11 million people. Its residents cannot leave unless they have special permissions. The decision came as China expects many travels across the country in time for the Chinese New Year on Friday, January 25, 2020.

    The city lockdown aims to "effectively cut off the transmission of the virus, resolutely curb the spread of the epidemic, and ensure the health and safety of the people," Chinese state media said.

    Wuhan City's tourism and culture department canceled all large-scale tours and activities until February 8, 2020. Tourist attractions and star-rated hotels are required to follow suit. All other establishments that have scheduled exhibitions and performances for the Chinese New Year have sent out cancellation notices.

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    Authorities confirmed that the number of infected people has jumped to 555 worldwide, CNN reports. The virus has been detected in patients in other parts of China, such as Shanghai and Macau, and also in Hong Kong. Cases have also been reported in other countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, and even the U.S.

    The 2019-nCOV death toll due rose to 17 in Wuhan. Almost all of the fatalities were elderly people with preexisting conditions

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    The 2019-nCOV can cause pneumonia, which can be deadly to some people. Symptoms include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing — typical signs of many coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

    The new coronavirus strain was initially thought to be transmitted through animal contact. Many of the early patients were people who worked or visited a large seafood and live animal market in Wuhan.

    China's National Health Commission Vice Minister Li Bin recently confirmed the 2019-nCOV virus can be spread from person-to-person "through the respiratory tract."

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    So far, all confirmed cases trace back to Wuhan or have had contact with someone who was exposed to the virus there. Healthcare workers have also been infected with the new virus.

    "There is possibility of the viral mutation and further spread of the disease," Bin added.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet declared the 2019 n-COV virus "public health emergency of international concern." The organization's priority was to find the roots of how the virus was passing between people to help contain it. The source of the virus is still unknown.

    On January 21, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its travel health notice for citizens traveling to Wuhan from Level 1 to Level 2, which advise travelers to "practice enhanced precautions." Airports around the world have stepped up screening travelers from Wuhan and from China in general.

    Like some other countries, the Philippines is awaiting confirmation of a suspectad 2019-nCOV case, one of a 5-year-old from Wuhan who traveled to Cebu City. Officials are also monitoring three other Chinese nationals exhibiting fever, colds, and cough when they landed at Kalibo International Airport.

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    Click here to know more about coronaviruses and here for ways on how you can protect your family from getting sick.

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