Story By: Alex Cope, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
A reported 5 million people left the city of Wuhan where the coronavirus first emerged before the city was put on lockdown, according to the mayor.
Wuhan city Mayor Zhou Xianwang told reporters that an estimated 5 million of the city’s residents had left Wuhan before it was sealed to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Xianwang said at a press conference that around 9 million people remained in the city after the lock down was put in place on Thursday, with 2,700 people currently under observation. Reports state around 1,000 are likely to be confirmed cases, with 533 confirmed cases in the city as of yesterday (Sunday).
Local media report many residents had already left the city for the Spring Festival holiday while others rushed to get out after the lock down plan was announced on Wednesday evening.
Health officials in China have warned that the ability of the virus to spread is increasing and China’s State Council has announced that the Lunar New Year holiday has been extended from 30th January to 2nd February to try to contain the virus, with the hope that avoiding crowded workplaces will help stop the spread.
The council added that nurseries, schools and colleges will be suspended until further notice.
The head of the National Health Commission in China, Ma Xiaowei, warned that battling the virus is difficult as it had been discovered that it can spread during the incubation period, which lasts one to 14 days, unlike SARS.
Xiaowei said “there are signs…the virus is becoming more transmissible” with hidden carriers “making controlling the outbreak a lot more difficult”.
The chief of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said that the epidemic “is still growing” but confirmed there had been no signs the virus is mutating.
There are currently a reported 2,801 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide.
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