As cases of the new coronavirus popped up around the globe, Chinese health officials managed to assuage the worries of the public, and the market, by insisting that the new, deadly coronavirus that emerged late last month in Wuhan had been ‘contained’ and that the outbreak would swiftly die down.
Despite imposing some draconian travel bans, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this isn’t going to happen. Even after quarantining an entire city of 11 million people – Wuhan is the 7th largest city in China and larger than any US city – experts are warning that it’s too late: The cat is already out of the bag.
But that won’t stop Beijing from trying: Now that Wuhan has been effectively cut off, Chinese officials announced another city-wide quarantine on Thursday: Huanggang city, which is in Hubei province and situated close to Wuhan, will suspend outbound train and bus services, as well as all bus services within the city effective Friday. All public places, including movie theaters, have been ordered to close until further notice, practically guaranteeing that the quarantine will take a bite out of GDP. Though even after authorities cut off all flights, Reuters reports that a few airlines were still running flights out of Wuhan.
As the SCMP pointed out, Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, is five times larger than London.
The decision comes as more than 600 cases of the virus have now been confirmed. The death toll has been steady since yesterday at 17, as the WHO ponders whether to label the outbreak as a global pandemic risk.