China is marking the Lunar New Year, one of the most important dates in its calendar, while concerns grow about the coronavirus outbreak.
As millions go home for the holidays, travel restrictions have been expanded to 13 cities – home to more than 36 million people – in Hubei province, the centre of the outbreak.
There are currently 830 confirmed cases in China, 26 of whom have died.
Wuhan, where the outbreak began, is rapidly building a new hospital.
The city – home to around 11 million people – is struggling to cope with the increasing number of patients.
State-owned news outlet Changjiang Daily said the 1,000-bed hospital could be ready by 3 February. A total of 35 diggers and 10 bulldozers are currently working on the site.
The project will “solve the shortage of existing medical resources” and would be “built fast [and] not cost much… because it will be prefabricated buildings”, the outlet said.
Videos have been circulating on social media, reportedly taken by Wuhan residents, showing long queues at local hospitals.
What restrictions are in place in Hubei?
Travel restrictions vary from city to city.
Wuhan is effectively on lockdown: all bus, metro and ferry services have been suspended, and all outbound planes and trains cancelled.
Residents have been advised not to leave, and roadblocks have been reported.
Ezhou, a smaller city in Hubei, shut its railway station. The city of Enshi has suspended all bus services.
And the rest of China?
City officials in the capital, Beijing, and Shanghai have asked residents who return from affected areas to stay at home for 14 days to prevent the spread of the virus, local media report.
- Have you been affected? Get in touch: email@example.com
Authorities have also shut major tourist sites including the Forbidden City in Beijing and a section of the Great Wall, and cancelled major public events in other parts of the country, including:
- Traditional temple fairs in Beijing
- An international carnival in Hong Kong
- Hong Kong’s annual football tournament
- All public Lunar New Year celebrations in Macau
Shanghai’s Disney Resort is temporarily closing, as are McDonald’s restaurants in five cities.
On Thursday, a coronavirus patient died in northern Hebei province – making it the first death outside Hubei.
Another death was later confirmed in north-east Heilongjiang province, more than 2,000km (1,200 miles) from Wuhan.
Earlier, when the death toll was 17, information from China’s National Health Commission said the youngest person who died from the virus was 48 and the oldest was 89.
But 15 of the 17 were over 60, and more than half suffered from other chronic diseases including Parkinson’s and diabetes. Just four were women.
Analysis – Can the coronavirus be stopped?
We now know this is not a virus that will burn out on its own and disappear.
Only the decisions being made in China – including shutting down cities – can stop it spreading.
Scientists have revealed each infected person is passing the virus on to between 1.4 and 2.5 people.
It is known as the virus’s basic reproduction number – anything higher than 1.0 means it’s self-sustaining.
Those figures are early estimates, but put coronavirus in roughly the same league as Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). There are two crucial outstanding questions – who is infectious and when are they infectious.
The fact only 25% of reported cases are severe is a mixed blessing.
Yes, that is less dangerous than Sars, but if those hard-to-detect mild or maybe symptomless cases are contagious too, then it is much harder to contain.
And we still don’t know when people are contagious. Is it before symptoms appear, or only after severe symptoms emerge? One is significantly harder to stop spreading than the other.
What’s the global situation?
Vietnam and Singapore were on Thursday added to the nations recording confirmed cases, joining Thailand, the US, Taiwan and South Korea.
Japan and South Korea have both confirmed their second cases.
On Friday, Singapore confirmed its third case – who is known to be the son of another patient. Thailand has five.
Other nations are investigating suspected cases, including the UK, US, and Canada.
The World Health Organization has not classed the virus as an “international emergency”, partly because of the low number of overseas cases.
“It may yet become one,” said the WHO’s director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Learn more about the new virus
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