THE number of deaths from China’s coronavirus outbreak has nearly doubled, to 17 people in just 24 hours, and Wuhan city, where the disease is thought to have started, is shutting down outbound flights and trains.
The state-owned People’s Daily newspaper said in a tweet that no one would be allowed to leave the city of 11 million people after 10am local time yesterday (Thursday) because it had been quarantined.
It means that train stations and the airport have shut down, as authorities battle to contain the virus from spreading. Other forms of public transport in Wuhan were also shut down, with buses and ferries also suspended.
Apart from the deaths, more than 500 cases of the disease were confirmed yesterday. And officials in China have stressed that people should not leave the city unless there are special circumstances.
The coronavirus is believed to have stemmed from illegally-trafficked animals at a Wuhan market, which has been named as the likely source.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has advised Britons against all-but-essential travel to that city. There are fears that the virus has already spread to the UK, and the Government has introduced extra screening to protect people from the deadly disease.
“Enhanced monitoring” will be put in place for all direct flights from Wuhan to Britain, said the Department of Health.
This includes offering advice to travellers if they feel unwell, and what symptoms to expect, at the worst.
All direct flights from Wuhan city to Heathrow will be subjected to enhanced monitoring, while worldwide city airports have introduced extra checks for passengers, including temperature-screening.
The DHSC confirmed that precautionary measures had been put in place since the virus spread to other parts of the world.
Yet hundreds of millions of Chinese people will be travelling at home and abroad for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Despite the alerts, though, medics admitted that the threat posed by the coronavirus in the UK was considered “low” at this stage.
Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director of Public Health England, said: “We have issued advice to the NHS, and we are keeping the situation under constant review.”
A Heathrow spokesman said: “The welfare of our passengers and colleagues is always our main priority and we are working with the Government to support the implementation of enhanced monitoring measures as a precaution
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