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Chinese authorities added four cities to their lockdown of Wuhan, home to a deadly new virus spreading rapidly, on Thursday afternoon, bringing the total population within the transport shutdown zone to about 20 million people.
Wuhan itself is home to 11 million people and sits in the heart of central China, making it a major transportation hub where many train connections to various provinces convene. Wuhan also boasts an international airport; Beijing suspended all flights in or out late Wednesday to contain the virus. An estimated 30,000 people flew out of the Wuhan airport daily before the lockdown.
Measures - Response - Virus - Wuhan - December
The sprawling measures are a response to a virus believed to have originated in Wuhan in December that has now been confirmed to infect over 500 people and kill 17. Authorities suspect that the virus first jumped from wild animal meat to humans at a seafood and game market in Wuhan and denied evidence that the virus was capable of human-to-human transmission until this week. On Monday, Chinese health officials announced they had identified the virus as being part of the coronavirus family, a relative of the virus responsible for the Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003 that killed nearly 800 people.
Scientists in China published a paper on Wednesday revealing findings that link the virus’s DNA structure to snakes native to the Wuhan region.
Virus - Symptoms - Fevers - Coughs - Respiratory
The virus produces flu-like symptoms including fevers, coughs, and other respiratory ailments before ultimately causing pneumonia.
The “Wuhan virus” outbreak has arrived in time for what is typically one of the highest-travel events of the year in Asia, Lunar New Year, which takes place on Saturday. Beijing and several other large Chinese cities have canceled Lunar New Year celebrations at temples and public plazas to avoid assembling large numbers of people in contained spaces and exacerbating the outbreak.
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