Wuhan Cancels All Transportation as Virus Deaths Hit 17
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
The death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus has risen to 17 with more than 600 confirmed infection cases, CNN reported Thursday. In an unprecedented step, authorities in Beijing have cancelled all large-scale Lunar New Year’s celebrations scheduled for January 25.
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On Thursday, the municipal government of Wuhan shut down all public transportation services in an attempt to stem the continuing spread of the deadly virus. The novel coronavirus originated in the central China city, but has now spread to other countries, including the U.S.
All local and long-distance buses, subways and ferries were “temporarily closed” beginning at 10 a.m., according to the English-language edition of China Daily. In addition, all flights and trains scheduled to depart from Wuhan also will be temporarily canceled, the government said. “Residents in Wuhan were suggested not to leave the city if there is no particular reason [to do so].”
CDC Warns ‘Novel Coronavirus Has the Potential to Cause Severe Disease and Death’
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has raised its alert level to “Level 2 Practice Enhanced Precautions.” Only “Level 3: Warning Avoid Nonessential Travel” is higher.
The CDC warns: “This novel coronavirus has the potential to cause severe disease and death. Preliminary information suggests this is especially true among the elderly and those people with underlying health problems or compromised immune systems. Many characteristics of this novel coronavirus and how it may affect people are still unclear.”
Closing Wuhan a Centuries-Old Tactic to Prevent the Spread of Infectious Disease
“In closing off Wuhan, a city of more than 11 million people, China is deploying a centuries-old public health tactic to prevent the spread of infectious disease,” The New York Times said. “Experts said the stunning scale of the shutdown, isolating a major urban transit hub larger than New York City, was without precedent.”
Dr. Howard Markel, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan, told the Times that Wuhan’s actions are “an unbelievable undertaking.” He said he had never heard of so many people being cordoned off as a disease-prevention measure.
The first confirmed case of Wuhan coronavirus was found in the U.S., just north of Seattle, on January 15. “The CDC and Washington state are now tracing the people he was in contact with to see if he might have spread the disease to someone else,” CNN said.
“The patient is faring well but is still being kept in isolation out of an abundance of caution,” health officials told CNN.
First Confirmed Case in US Prompts Stricter Screenings at Airports
The discovery of the coronavirus in the U.S. has prompted stricter screening of airline passengers arriving from Wuhan at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.
This week, passengers arriving from Wuhan will also be screened at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport.