China locks down cities to contain coronavirus Jan 24, 2020 0 486 12345 AFPWuhan, ChinaChina locked down some 20 million people at the epicentre of a deadly virus outbreak on Thursday, banning planes and trains from leaving in an unprecedented move aimed at containing the disease which has already spread to other countries.The respiratory virus has claimed 18 lives since emerging from a seafood and animal market in the central city of Wuhan, infected hundreds of other people and been detected as far away as the United States.As efforts to contain the virus spread across China, Beijing cancelled massive gatherings that usually attract throngs at temples during the New Year holiday, while the historic Forbidden City will close from Saturday.Streets and shopping centres in Wuhan were eerily quiet after authorities told residents not to leave the major city of 11 million people, where most of the cases have been identified.Trains and planes out of Wuhan were indefinitely suspended and tollways on roads out the city were closed, leading to fear and panic for those who were trapped.“We are feeling as though it is the end of the world,” said one Wuhan resident on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform, voicing concerns about shortages of food and disinfectant.Hours after announcing the Wuhan lockdown, authorities in neighbouring Huanggang city announced public transport and train services would be suspended at midnight, while people were told to not leave the city of 7.5 million.All of Huanggang’s cinemas, internet cafes and its central market will close.Ezhou, a city in Hubei province with a population of 1.1 million, announced the train station had been closed earlier in the day.Three other cities in the province had restrictions announced on their public transport or roads, including Lichuan, a city with a population of nearly 1 million.State broadcaster CCTV reported that the government was allocating 1 billion RMB ($144 million) for “prevention and control” of the epidemic in the province.The measures were announced as China confirmed the first death from the virus outside the epicentre.The health commission in northern Hebei province -- which borders Beijing -- said an 80-year-old man diagnosed with the new virus had died.Wuhan’s train station and airport, which should have been packed with people travelling for holiday family reunions, were almost empty on Thursday.Governor of Hubei province Wang Xiaodong told CCTV that closing off Wuhan had been a “very difficult decision”. But most Wuhan residents were willing to comply with the measure.“The new pneumonia is our new common enemy,” Shi Chengwei, a driver, told AFP. The few people wandering in the streets of the city were wearing masks as mandated by police. More than 570 people have been infected with the virus across China -- with most cases found in Wuhan, where a market that illegally sold wild animals has been identified as the epicentre.The coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.The first case of the new virus was confirmed on December 31. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Johnson’s Brexit deal officially becomes UK law Jan 24, 2020 0 1139 Trump, back from Davos, attacks impeachment trial Jan 24, 2020 0 408 Countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus Jan 24, 2020 0 912 How the world is responding to China virus outbreak AFP Paris Here is a rundown of the efforts by countries around the world to contain the outbreak. ▪ China has quarantined Wuhan, suspending public transport, closing roads and cancelling planes and trains to and from the .. Putin calls for summit of key UN Security Council members Jerusalem: Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Thursday for a summit of leaders of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, to “defend peace in the face of global instability”.His call came as Russia .. Brazil no longer refusing foreign funds to protect Amazon rainforest Berlin: Brazil is willing to accept foreign funding to protect the Amazon rainforest, Vice President Hamilton Mourao said on Thursday, backtracking on the country’s earlier refusal of such aid. In August, far-right .. US to limit visas for pregnant women to curb ‘birth tourism’ AFP Washington The United States said on Thursday it will no longer issue temporary visitor visas to pregnant women seeking to enter the country for so-called “birth tourism.” In announcing the rule, which takes effect ..