Major Chinese cities, including the capital of Beijing and virus-hit Wuhan, have banned all large gatherings over the coming Lunar New Year festival because of the vastly spreading coronavirus outbreak.
This was announced Thursday as authorities extended travel restrainment imposed on Wuhan to surrounding municipalities, shutting down travel networks and trying to quarantine some 25 million people.
Parts of China went under unprecedented quarantine and cities around China were forced to cancel one of the most important cultural events of the year.
The Lunar New Year celebration typically features parades, outdoor festivals, and lanterns throughout the city.
Compared to the usual throng of people mingling in Ditan Park for the occasion last 2019, it was eerily empty this 2020 as workers took down the lantern decorations after the Lunar New Year celebration was canceled.
According to Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, the mild symptoms of the new coronavirus – fever, cough, tightness of the chest, and difficulty with breathing – inversely causes more worry because it allows people to travel further before their symptoms are detected.
Airports have contributed to the restrainment through screening measures.
Chinese health officials have urged people to limit travel and have also asked people to limit public gatherings.
Two Lunar New Year events in the Lower Mainland were canceled Saturday due to the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. The epicenter of the virus, the Chinese city of Wuhan, is already on lockdown and banned most vehicle use downtown; it has temporarily shut down its public transport. Chinese authorities have closed Wuhan off by canceling planes and trains leaving the city and suspending buses, subways, and ferries within it.
Direct flights and trains from Wuhan would be blocked, said Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.
The new strain of the virus has spread to other parts of China, with some cases in other countries including the US.
The announcement, just hours before it was to take effect, was a notch up from when the authorities had urged people not to travel to or from the central Chinese city without shutting down transportation yet.
Level 1 public health alert has been announced in most of China’s provinces and cities.
China has consistently expanded a lockdown to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million.
The sudden restrictions were announced after the official death toll nearly doubled.
Posters advertising an event at Semiahmoo Mall in South Surrey were marked with a sticker saying it was canceled “as a precaution.”
One of the dance and martial arts groups slated to perform said they had been informed by the mall the event was canceled but were not provided the reasoning behind it.
China is wont to suspend all tour groups and flight sales and hotel packages for its citizens headed overseas.
Tour groups that were in the middle of their trips were advised to proceed with their itineraries but should closely monitor the health of their travelers.
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