China has shut down all modes of transport to and from Wuhan city, which is considered the epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak.
The move is aimed at arresting the spread of the virus, which has so far claimed 17 lives and infected 600 people.
Chinese newspaper People’s Daily tweeted: “No people in #Wuhan, C China’s Hubei will be allowed to leave the city starting 10 a.m. of Jan. 23. Train stations and airport will shut down; the city bus, subway, ferry and long-distance shuttle bus will also be temporarily closed: local authority #WuhanPneumonia #coronavirus”
With a population of around 11 million, Wuhan is one of China’s major transport hubs for flights, trains and ferries.
Wuhan Tianhe International Airport is situated 26km north of Wuhan City and operates direct flights to New York, London, San Francisco, Paris, Rome and Moscow.
The Washington Post stated that the city’s railway station has been fortified with armed guards to ensure that no person leaves the city.
Passengers driving out of Wuhan were checked for temperature by health workers in hazmat suits.
Coronavirus has been identified in other countries as well, with four cases in Thailand and one case each in the US, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.
It is estimated that this move will impact the plans of around 400 million people who plan to travel to other parts of the country by air, rail transport or road for the Lunar New Year holiday, starting on Friday.
Airports around the world have also started screening passengers arriving from China, including Hong Kong, for the deadly coronavirus symptoms.
Heathrow Airport in the UK has introduced a separate arrivals zone for people arriving from Wuhan.