China ramped up measures to contain a virus that has killed 26 people and infected more than 800, suspending public transport in 10 cities, shutting temples over the Lunar New Year and even closing the Forbidden City and part of the Great Wall, Reuters informed.
The week-long holiday to welcome the Year of the Rat began on Friday, raising fears the infection rate could accelerate as hundreds of millions of people travel to their homes and abroad in what is usually a festive time of year.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the new coronavirus an emergency for China but stopped short of declaring the epidemic of international concern.
While most of the cases and all of the deaths have been in China, the virus has been detected in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States. It was likely Britain also had cases, a health official said.
The newly identified coronavirus has created alarm because it is too early to know just how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people.
Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing and coughing. Most of the fatalities have been elderly, many with pre-existing conditions, the WHO said. Cases are likely to continue to rise in China but it is too soon to evaluate the severity of the virus, a WHO spokesman said on Friday.
As of Thursday, there were 830 confirmed cases and 26 people had died there, China’s National Health Commission said. In Wuhan, where the outbreak began last month, pharmacies were running out of supplies and hospitals were flooded with nervous residents seeking medical checks.