China imposes first partial lockdown in city outside virus epicenter

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China announced a partial lockdown in the southern city of Shantou on Sunday in a bid to control the spread of a deadly virus, the first such measure taken outside the epicenter of the disease.

From midnight, non-emergency vehicles will be prohibited from entering the city of 5.6 million people, which is a 1,100-kilometer (680-mile) drive from Wuhan, the heart of the epidemic.

People arriving at Shantou train stations will be screened and “urged to return”, said city authorities.

Buses, ferries, public transport and taxis will be suspended, Shantou authorities said on their official social media account.

The measures are to “spare no efforts in doing a good job of preventing and controlling” the epidemic, Shantou officials said, and to “cut off the channels of spreading the virus”.

The new virus has infected nearly 2,000 across China and killed 56. Most of the dead are in Wuhan or the surrounding Hubei province.

There have been two cases confirmed in Shantou and 98 in Guangdong province, according to the province’s health commission.

In Wuhan, the capital of central Hubei province, authorities have banned people from leaving the city of 11 million people.

Transport bans have been placed in many other cities in Hubei, affecting some 56 million people.

Shantou’s statement did not announce restrictions on residents leaving the city, and said that the main highway could be used normally.

In the north of the country, Beijing and Tianjin have announced the suspension of buses that enter and exit the cities in a bid to control the spread of the virus.