New coronavirus cases rise to 571 in Chinese mainland


Anxiety rises
Wuhan goes into lockdown due to Coronavirus
A sense of anxiety is growing in Wuhan as the Chinese city goes into lockdown in an effort to control the spread of a deadly virus which has left 17 dead.
The authorities have suspended outbound planes and trains into the city, as well as buses, subways and ferries.
Residents have been told not to leave the city of 11 million people. Voicing fear about food shortages, one said it felt like “the end of the world”.
There are more than 500 confirmed cases of the virus which has spread overseas.
Officials in Hong Kong reported the territory’s first two cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday and one case was reported in the nearby city of Macau. The first US case was confirmed on Tuesday.
The lockdown in Wuhan comes as millions of Chinese people in other parts of China are travelling across the country for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.
Another Wuhan resident said on social media site Weibo that they were on the “verge of tears” when they heard about the closures.
All outbound flights from Wuhan have been suspended as of Thursday. A handful of inbound flights still appear to be operating, though many flights have been cancelled.
Singapore Airlines, budget carrier Scoot, which operates a daily flight between Singapore and Wuhan, have on Thursday cancelled flights on that route.
Cases of the new coronavirus pneumonia disease rose to 571 on the Chinese mainland as of Wednesday, including 95 in critical condition, and fatalities rose to 17, China’s National Health Commission said on Thursday morning.
In addition, 393 suspected cases were reported as of Wednesday. All the reported deaths were in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak.
Outside the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan each confirmed one case.
Thailand confirmed three cases, while the United States, Japan and South Korea reported one confirmed case each, the commission said.
Health authorities have traced 5,897 people who had close contact with the patients, and 969 of them have been released from medical observation, with 4,928 still under medical observation.
Earlier on the same day, the government of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreaks, announced a suspension of the city’s public transport system, including buses, subway and ferry, and exits of airport and railway stations in the city, for disease control.
Upgraded measures are being taken to contain the outbreak of viral pneumonia within Wuhan to prevent it further spreading to other regions.
“We must be steadfast and strong to keep the outbreak within Wuhan. We’ll urge Hubei province and the city of Wuhan to take the strictest measures for prevention and control,” Li Bin, vice minister of the National Health Commission, said on Wednesday.
“Such measures include intensifying supervision of open air markets, minimising public activities, taking the strictest measures regarding people with fever and preventing the outbreak from further spreading,” he said at a news conference organised by the State Council Information Office.
The Wuhan government required all people in public places such as hotels, restaurants, cinemas, parks, shopping centers and public transportation to wear masks to prevent the spread of the virus, according to an announcement on Wednesday night. The rule took effect immediately.