Updated: Three Chinese cities shutting down transit as coronavirus spreads to three more countries
Update (January 23):
The total number of confirmed cases in China has increased to 634.
Joining the list of places outside of China, Vietnam has two confirmed cases, Singapore has one, and Saudi Arabia has one.
The Chinese cities of Huanggang and Ezhou are suspending public transit networks, including buses and trains, and are asking citizens not to leave the city, in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.
Beijing has cancelled major public events, including two Lunar New Year fairs.
Original article (January 22):
While some of the largest migrations of travelers are taking place for the Lunar New Year (January 25), the epicenter of the new coronavirus is undergoing measures to limit transmission.
Transportation to and from Wuhan, China, is being shut down by authorities. The seventh most populous Chinese city, with a population of an estimated 11 million people, is shutting down, including public transit networks for buses, subways, and ferries. Airports and train stations will also be closed to outgoing travel.
Anyone in Wuhan is being asked not to leave the city and visitors are discouraged from entering it.
The number of affected individuals has risen to over 548 cases with 17 deaths. There are four cases in Thailand, one in Japan, one in South Korea, and one in Seattle, Washington.
One case is being investigated in Mexico as well as one in the Philippines.
The World Health Organization's emergency committee is meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to assess the global risks of the virus and to decide if it should be declared an international public health emergency.
UBC emergency medicine professor Dr. Michael Curry told CTV News said that, according to preliminary data, this coronavirus is not as strong as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Dr. Curry also expressed skepticism about airport checks as travelers may not want to self-report due to delays and that with similar infections, people can be infectious before symptoms manifest.
Meanwhile, Dr. Allison McGeer at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital told CBC News that if the virus mutates as SARS did after the initial 2003 outbreak, it could become more contagious.
The B.C. government issued a statement on January 22 to explain its preparations for the virus, including having a diagnostic test and increasing signage and health resources at Vancouver International Airport.