China escalates efforts to fight pneumonia outbreak

By Chen Qingqing, Li Xuanmin and Ji Yuqiao Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/23 15:02:27 Last Updated: 2020/1/23 15:31:22

A thermal detector at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, Jan. 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)

A doctor measures a man's body temperature in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, during community activities to help prevent and control the new pneumonia. Photo: China News Service

Authorities in Wuhan have stepped up efforts to curb the spread of a new coronavirus which originated from the city by suspending all public transportation, including trains and flights, in an escalated fight against the pneumonia outbreak that has claimed 17 lives.

The city has shut down all outbound ways of airports and railway stations from 10 a.m. Thursday and city buses, subways, ferries and long-distance coaches have also suspended. 

The government also asked local residents not to leave the city without specific reasons. Residents in Wuhan are also required to wear masks in public places.  

The decision to suspend public transportation services in Wuhan comes as the country is entering the peak travel season for the upcoming Spring Festival.  

Latest data showed that a total of 571 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus had been reported across the country by the end of Wednesday. The number is still rising as more regions reported new confirmed cases.  

The pneumonia outbreak had resulted in 17 deaths, all in Central China's Hubei Province. Among those, the youngest fatality was 48 years old while the eldest was 89. Most of them had a history of chronic diseases, according to the National Health Commission.

The Hankou railway station of Wuhan has suspended services as of 10 am on Thursday. Passengers wearing face masks hustled to catch trains to get out of the city before 10am. Security measures have been strengthened at the station.

A total of 288 inbound and outbound flights from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport have been cancelled as of 11:30 am on Thursday. The airport originally plans to receive about 566 flights in and out on Thursday, according to media reports. 

Many Wuhan residents turned to social media like WeChat and Twitter-like Sina Weibo to cheer each other up and said they would fight together against the coronavirus.

“I have to celebrate Spring Festival alone this year. But I stand with the decision of the government. I will take good care of myself and stay here until we knock the virus off,” one of Sina Weibo users commented.

Community workers could be seen reminding local residents to wear masks with loudspeakers on Wuhan streets on Thursday. Precaution notices are posted in many public spaces of the city.

Many people in other parts of the country posted comments on Weibo to support the city and the government’s effort to fight the virus. 
"We are together with you, Wuhan! Let's fight against the virus and win!" read a post on Weibo that got 940 million views as of press time.

All seven films planned to debut during Spring Festival announced plans to cancel their screenings during the scheduled time period due to the risk of the spread of the virus. 

The Ski Mountaineering World Cup 2020 at China's Zhangjiakou stop, scheduled from Feb 18 to 20, was cancelled, according to the organizer's statement, in an apparent move to react to concerns over the virus outbreak.  

More than 80 million face masks have been sold on China’s e-commerce platform Taobao, owned by Alibaba, from Monday to Tuesday, as more Chinese turn to wear masks amid the coronavirus outbreak. Other medical items, such as disinfectant, sanitizer and goggles are also hot sells. 

While the authorities stepped out efforts to contain the spread of the virus, they also moved to contain public fears and rumors. 
Wuhan authorities on Thursday rebutted rumors that claimed the PLA's Central Theatre Command air force will spray disinfectant over the city on that day. They also denied rumors that the city will transport patients to designated hospitals for treating the virus from 5pm to 9pm.


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