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China seals five cities to halt spread of Coronavirus as cases climb to over 630

BEIJING: China on Thursday locked down five cities, including Wuhan, suspending all public transport in an unprecedented move to contain the coronavirus that has infected over 630 people and left 18 others dead, dampening the celebrations of the Lunar New Year.

On Thursday evening, Chinese officials announced suspension of public transport in five cities – Huanggang, Ezhou, Zhijiang, Qianjiang and Wuhan in Hubei province, official media reported.

Wuhan, the city of 11 million people where the virus is believed to have first emerged, has no trains or planes in or out.

Nationwide, a total of 18 people have died.

While 17 of them died in and around Wuhan, one death was reported from outside Hubei — the virus epicentre.

According to the health commission in northern Hebei province, which borders Beijing, an 80-year-old man diagnosed with the new virus died on January 22.

The victims’ average age was 73, with the oldest 89 and the youngest 48.

So far 631 cases have been confirmed in 25 provincial-level regions in the country.

The government has sealed Wuhan and Huanggang, a prefecture-level city with over 7.4 million people, in an unprecedented effort to curb the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus.