Extreme new measures to try and curtail the spread of coronavirus in the Chinese province where the deadly outbreak began have been introduced for its 58 million people.
As of Sunday, new unprecedented rules meant urban and rural residents of Hubei, including those in 11- million strong Wuhan, are now forced to stay home and businesses will be closed until further notice, virtually sealing off the entire province, the South China Morning Post reported.
Vehicles are banned from roads, the only exception being emergency vehicles, those transporting goods and other authorised vehicles.
One resident per household will be allowed to venture out once every three days in order to buy “essentials” from stores allowed to stay open during the lockdown.
When outside, residents must wear a mask and keep a minimum of 1.5 metres from other people and those who are allowed out will be monitored to prevent build-ups of crowds inside stores.
“Disease control of the province has entered an important and difficult period,” the provincial government said in its announcement.
“The situation is still grim and to cut transmission effectively and deter the trend of contagion … here are the new requirements.”
Pharmacies will now record details of individuals who acquire medicines for colds, coughs or fevers while rural communities will have all routes into the area blocked bar one, which will be guarded.
Mahjong gatherings banned in Wuhan
Any urban community, village or building that has a confirmed case of coronavirus will be quarantined for a two-week period.
Gatherings inside communities will be prohibited, with mahjong – an extremely popular tile-based game in China normally played by four people around a table – now banned.
“All leisure and entertainment venues shall be shut down and all group activities shall be suspended,” the announcement continued.
“Weddings should be postponed, and funeral processes minimised. Visiting other households is strictly prohibited, as is playing mahjong and card games.”
The announcement is the first significant move since Hubei party secretary Jiang Chaoliang was replaced by Shanghai mayor Ying Yong, 61 – one of president Xi Jinping’s close aides.
Chinese authorities have pointed to the slowing rise in cases as proof their measures are working to stem the spread, even as the death toll climbed to 1770.
The daily number of new cases been declining for the last thirteen days outside of Hubei.
Despite growing concern the Chinese government failed to adequately address the virus in its early days, World Health Organisation director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said China’s response has “bought the world time” in its fight against the outbreak.
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