Beijing authorities have cancelled “large-scale” events, including New Year celebrations, in order to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus, state media reported on Thursday.
The “large-scale events’’ include traditional temple fairs, the state-run newspaper Beijing Evening News said on the Weibo messaging service.
Two more cities in China’s Hubei province say they have imposed travel bans as a new virus that has infected hundreds of people continues to spread from the province’s capital city of Wuhan.
Authorities are trying to prevent the potentially deadly virus from spreading further, as hundreds of thousands of people are planning to travel home for the Lunar New Year this weekend.
Seventeen people have died after contracting the virus, according to official figures.
The Geneva-based World Health Organisation is meeting to discuss whether to declare the outbreak a public health emergency.
Similarly, Britain’s health minister said that the number of cases of new coronavirus is likely to be higher than confirmed so far so the death toll will probably rise further.
“All the fatalities have so far been contained to mainland China; however, this is a rapidly developing situation and the number of deaths and the number of cases is likely to be higher than those that have been confirmed so far.
“I expect them to rise further,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament.
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“A small number of cases of the new coronavirus have now been detected in other countries including Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the U.S.,” Hancock said.
China put on lockdown on Thursday two cities at the epicentre of a new coronavirus outbreak that has killed 17 people and infected nearly 600, as health authorities around the world scramble to prevent a global pandemic.
“There are no confirmed cases of this new infection in the UK so far,” Hancock said.
In another development, Abu Dhabi International Airport, the base of carrier Etihad Airways, will screen passengers arriving from China, the airport said on Thursday, as the coronavirus outbreak in China spreads.
“Abu Dhabi International Airport has started a screening process for passengers arriving from China in an effort to ensure the health and safety of all of our travellers,” it said on Twitter.