Coronavirus: Hong Kong declares emergency as death toll climbs
The US is arranging a charter flight on Sunday to bring its citizens and diplomats back from Wuhan, the central Chinese city that is the epicentre of the outbreak, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In Hong Kong, with five confirmed cases, the city’s leader Carrie Lam said flights and high speed rail trips between the city and Wuhan will be halted. Schools in Hong Kong that are currently on Lunar New Year holidays will remain closed until February 17 and education authorities have asked universities to extend leave for students.
Hubei province’s Civil Affairs Department deputy director-general Hu Yinghai appealed for masks and protective suits.
Wuhan said it would ban non-essential vehicles from its downtown starting on Sunday, further paralysing a city of 11 million that has been on virtual lockdown since Thursday.
Nearly all flights have been cancelled and checkpoints are blocking the main roads leading out of town.
Authorities have since imposed transport restrictions on nearly all of Hubei province, which has a population of 59 million.
In Australia, three men aged 53, 43 and 35 in New South Wales were in a stable condition with the virus after returning from Wuhan earlier this month. A Chinese national in his 50s, who had been in Wuhan, was also in a stable condition in a Melbourne hospital after arriving from China on January 19, Victoria Health officials said.
US coffee chain Starbucks said it was closing all its outlets in Hubei province for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, following a similar move by McDonald’s in five Hubei cities.
Originally published as Virus emergency declared as toll climbs