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37m people affected by lockdowns as China tries to curb virus

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Some 37 million people in Chinese cities were affected by travel bans on Friday, as authorities aimed to curb the spread of a new virus in the country.

According to the National Health Commission, the virus known as coronavirus has infected no fewer than 876 people across the country.

The commission stated that 26 patients had been reported dead as of Friday, including two patients outside of Hubei province, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated.

No less than 11 cities had announced they were suspending train and long-distance bus services.

This is coming in spite of the fact that hundreds of thousands of people had been planning to travel to their home towns for the Lunar New Year holiday on Saturday.

According to local governments and state media, the cities that have so far imposed transportation bans include Wuhan, Chibi, Lichuan, Xiantao, Ezhou, Huanggang, Xianning, Qianjiang, Huangshi, Jingzhou and Dangyang.

In spite of a rising death toll, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was “too early” to declare an international health emergency over the outbreak.

The real number of patients could be much higher, as many in Wuhan are reportedly unable to receive treatment due to overcrowding in hospitals.

Experts at Imperial College in London estimated a total of 4,000 cases had symptoms by Jan. 18.

The new coronavirus belongs to the same family of viruses that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a disease that infected 8,000 people and killed 800 globally between 2002 and 2003 pandemic that also started in China.

Cases of the disease have been reported in Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the U.S., as well as in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Isaac Aregbesola

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