Panicked China locks down Wuhan to control coronavirus
New Delhi/Beijing: Following the panic triggered by the outbreak of a new coronavirus, China has locked down its Wuhan city with a population of around 11 million people.
Sources in Beijing said that the government has shut down the city’s airport, railway stations, short distance ferries and long-distance coaches in Central China’s Wuhan city, following 18 deaths due to the 2019-nCoV, a new strain of coronavirus, previously not identified in humans.
The symptoms of infection include fever, cough and breathing problems.
Fearing that the epidemic may spread further, Chinese authorities in a late night notification, have asked residents not to leave the city unless necessary.
Normal life in Wuhan has come to a standstill and the lockdown has caused panic among people, sources said.
Some regions are facing a shortage of drugs and sterilisation equipment due to the epidemic in Wuhan. Sources said China may also place another city Huanggang with six million population under a similar lockdown, even as Wuhan remains the centre and originator of the outbreak of the new virus.
Over 500 Indian students study in Wuhan city’s medical colleges in universities. However, Indian officials said most of them had left for home for the Chinese New Year holidays.
After a case of one Indian teacher infected by the virus in China was reported, India issued an advisory last week against travel to Wuhan.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday night extended to Thursday its emergency talks on whether the novel coronavirus outbreak in China constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
“There was an excellent discussion during the meeting today, but it was also clear that to proceed, we need more information,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference after a closed-door meeting of an Emergency Committee in Geveva, the Xinhua news agency reported.
“For that reason, I have decided to ask the Emergency Committee to meet again tomorrow to continue the discussion,” added Tedros.
“The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern is one I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence,” the WHO chief noted.
Tedros said he was very impressed by the detail and depth of China’s presentation of the situation of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
He also appreciated the cooperation of Ma Xiaowei, head of China’s National Health Commission, who he had spoken with directly during the last few days and weeks.
The intervention of the Chinese leadership, said the WHO chief, has been invaluable.