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China shuts down transport in nine cities around coronavirus epicentre; Shanghai's Disneyland closed

Jingzhou is the latest in a string of cities in central Hubei province to impose travel restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of the new coronavirus which has infected more than 800 people.

Published: 24th January 2020 01:08 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th January 2020 01:11 PM   |  A+A-

A worker wearing a hazardous materials suit gives directions to a passenger at a subway station in Beijing

A worker wearing a hazardous materials suit gives directions to a passenger at a subway station in Beijing. (Photo| AP)

By AFP

BEIJING: China on Friday added a ninth city to a transport ban around the epicentre of a deadly virus, restricting the movement of some 32 million people as authorities scramble to control the disease.

Jingzhou, with a population of 6.4 million, said Friday that all services departing from its railway station will be suspended from 0400 GMT. The city is the latest in a string of cities in central Hubei province to impose travel restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of the new coronavirus which has infected more than 800 people.

Public buses, passenger transport, tourism buses, ferries and other boats will temporarily stop operations as well. The virus first emerged from the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, where a seafood market has been identified as the centre of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Shanghai Disneyland will close until further notice this weekend due to a deadly virus outbreak that has infected hundreds of people in China, the amusement park said on Friday.

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But the park and resort said on its website it would temporarily close from Saturday "in response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak and in order to ensure the health and safety" of its guests and staff.

"We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and be in close contact with the local government, and we will announce the reopening date upon confirmation," it said, adding that guests who had purchased tickets or booked a resort hotel would be reimbursed.

The closure comes as China entered its nearly week-long Lunar New Year holiday, and the home of Mickey Mouse had prepared special "Year of the Mouse" celebrations for its guests. The entertainment conglomerate opened its USD 5.5 billion theme park in Shanghai in June 2016, Disney's sixth amusement park and third in Asia.

More than 25 have died due to the virus, which has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Huangshi, with a population of 2.4 million, shut transport routes Friday as well as closing a ferry terminal and bridge over the Yangtze River, and suspending public transport. The move followed the suspension of long-distance passenger buses, tourist coaches and public transport from Thursday night in Qianjiang, a city in central Hubei with a population of nearly one million people.

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Trains and planes were halted from leaving Wuhan on Thursday as the city was placed under effective lockdown. Passenger boats and buses were also forbidden from entering the city.

The virus has hit China in the midst of its Lunar New Year holiday, typically marked by family gatherings and public celebrations. Other cities with travel restrictions include Xiantao, a city of 1.5 million, and Chibi, which has some 500,000 people, which closed toll station entrances and halted transport routes.

The cities of Ezhou, Huanggang and Lichuan have also introduced travel restrictions. Hubei province authorities said they were calling off cultural performances at public venues. Travel agencies in the province have suspended business activities, and are no longer organising tour groups, authorities said in an announcement on Friday.

From 0400 GMT, the province will also stop operating online taxis and impose restrictions on taxis plying the roads.

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