Huanggang has become the second Chinese city to go into lock-down following the closure of Wuhan, as authorities step up efforts to halt the spread of a new coronavirus that originated in the latter in December and has now killed 17 people and infected 571.

“Without a special reason, city residents should not leave Wuhan,” the central city’s special command centre to combat the virus said on Thursday, according to state media.

Hours later, state media in neighbouring Huanggang, a city of some six million people, said it was imposing a similar lockdown.

The moves are meant to “effectively cut off the virus spread, resolutely curb the outbreak and guarantee the people’s health and safety,” the notice said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Stations and the airport in Wuhan were closed from 10am (02:00 GMT) with buses, the metro system, ferries and long-distance shuttle buses also suspended in Wuhan. All public gatherings were cancelled in the city of 11 million residents.

Health authorities in the Huanggang , which borders the central city of Wuhan, said they would suspend public bus and railway operations from midnight (1600 GMT).

They also ordered indoor entertainment venues including movie theaters and internet cafes to shut, and asked citizens not to leave the city other than under special circumstances.

The decisions came as hundreds of millions of people were travelling across China for the Lunar New Year holiday, which starts on Friday, and state television said the number of confirmed infections had risen to 571.

Most patients are in Wuhan and the surrounding provinces, but cases have appeared elsewhere in China and countries including Thailand, South Korea and the United States.

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