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coronavirus lockdown

Chinese authorities have increased lockdown measures across Hubei province to try to control the spread of the new virus that has left 18 people dead in the country.

Wuhan, Hubei’s capital of 11 million people where the coronavirus first emerged, has no trains or planes in or out.

At least five other provincial cities are seeing clampdowns on transport.

There are more than 500 confirmed cases of the virus, which has spread abroad, with Singapore and Vietnam the latest affected.

The new strain of coronavirus is believed to have originated at a market in Wuhan. One resident of the city said the atmosphere there felt like “the end of the world”.

The lockdown measures come as millions of people travel across China for the Lunar New Year holiday.

All the fatalities bar one so far have been in Hubei province. Most of the 17 victims there were elderly and suffered from other chronic diseases including Parkinson’s disease and diabetes.

An 18th victim, an elderly patient, was announced on January 23 in Hebei province, near the capital, Beijing.

Wuhan’s public transport lockdown came into force as of 10:00 local time, leaving normally busy train stations and airports empty.

One Wuhan resident said on social media site Weibo that people were on the “verge of tears” when they heard about the closures.

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Health authorities are reported to have made wearing a mask mandatory in Wuhan. They are advising people to avoid crowds and public gatherings.

Demand for rubber gloves and surgical masks has soared. Taobao, the Chinese online retail giant, has warned sellers not to profit from the outbreak by raising prices.

Huanggang, a city east of Wuhan, suspended bus and rail services and encouraged people not to leave the city. Cafes, cinemas, theatres and exhibitions are also being shut.

Ezhou, a city just south of Huanggang, has shut its train stations.

Xiantaohas canceled gatherings, suspended transport and set up temperature detection stations.

Chibi and Lichuanare suspending transport.

Beijing announced it had canceled all major Chinese New Year celebrations.