China is ramping up containment measures as the spread of a new coronavirus that has killed 56 people and infected at least 1,975 more in the country accelerates.
More than 56 million people in almost 20 cities are affected by travel restrictions, which have been introduced amid fears the transmission rate will balloon as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel for the Lunar New Year celebrations.
Health authorities around the world are taking action to prevent a pandemic as more countries report cases. Confirmed cases have so far been announced in Europe, North America and several Asian countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged that the respiratory illness, which has been traced to the city of Wuhan, is an emergency in China but the organisation said on Thursday it was too early to declare it a public health emergency of international concern.
South Korea has confirmed its third case of the new coronavirus, Yonhap News Agency reported. According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), a 54-year-old South Korean resident of Wuhan who arrived back home on Monday tested positive for the virus.
He was placed in isolation on Saturday for tests and treatment the KCDC said, adding that all efforts were being made to trace his whereabouts and people he met after arriving in the country.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said his country was working with Chinese authorities to arrange a charter flight for any Japanese nationals who wish to return from Wuhan.
Japan’s national broadcaster NHK reported earlier on Sunday that about 700 Japanese believed to be in Wuhan, which has been on lockdown for several days.
The Chinese capital will delay reopening the city’s kindergartens, schools and universities, state-owned China National Radio (CNR) said on its official Weibo page.
The measures are aimed at preventing the spread of the new coronavirus, according to CNR. Schools are currently closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
CNR reported separately that the Beijing government said it would not lock down the city.
Source: Al Jazeera