Two people embrace as they arrive at a train station in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province on January 12, 2020 Image Credit: AFP

Beijing: In an attempt to contain the virus, Chinese authorities advised people in the city of 11 million people not to leave.

In China — with hundreds of millions of Chinese packing onto public transport to make their annual pilgrimages home for the Lunar New Year — a new sense of panic set in after confirmation that the coronavirus could be transmitted person to person.

Long lines formed at pharmacies and convenience stores around the country as people rushed to buy surgical masks, with unlucky customers posting photos on social media of bare shelves.


The number of people who have died of the new corona virus as of Wednesday morning

People around the country canceled their trips home for the Spring Festival, as new year celebrations are known, the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar.

"I don't really dare to go to the airport right now, or even to the movie theater," said Xie Jing, 33, who works in advertising in Shanghai, where there have been two confirmed cases of coronavirus.


The number of confirmed cases in China as of Wednesday morning, an increase of more than 200 from Monday, according to Li Bin, vice director of the National Health Commission

She canceled her planned trip home to Sichuan, where two cases are suspected.

"Everyone is being very careful at the moment in Shanghai. Everyone is wearing masks on the streets," Xie said.

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Medical staff carry a box as they walk at the Jinyintan hospital, where the patients with pneumonia caused by the new strain of coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China January 10, 2020. Picture taken January 10, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer CHINA OUT Image Credit: REUTERS

US case of coronavirus

But the US case showed how far it has already moved beyond the Wuhan region.

US officials said the man, a resident of Snohomish County, Washington, returned January 15 from a trip to the region around Wuhan. Shortly after arriving at Seattle's international airport, he began feeling ill and reached out to his health-care provider on Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Monday the man had the coronavirus — which has sickened more than 400 people in China and others in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

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The man was in stable condition at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington. Officials said they are monitoring him there out of an abundance of caution, not because he is seriously ill.

CDC officials said they were expanding screenings to international airports in Atlanta and Chicago. Measures were already in place in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York's John F. Kennedy international airports, the first such effort since the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Federal officials said travelers arriving in the United States on direct and indirect flights from Wuhan would be directed to one of those five airports so they can be screened.

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For example, a passenger on a Wuhan-Shanghai-Boston route would likely be sent first to JFK for screening, and then Boston, CDC officials said.

But the Washington state man arrived before the airport screenings began.

"This is an evolving situation and again, we do expect additional cases in the United States and globally," said Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease.