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China shuts transport, temples as virus toll rises to 25

World News from Reuters
World News from Reuters
24 days ago|6.6K views
Hospitals in Wuhan are struggling to cope. The city at the epicentre of a virus outbreak is facing severe medical shortages as confirmed cases grow by the hundreds every day. Chinese media are reporting that some hospitals have only three to four days left of supplies, and are running low on testing kits. Now, some hospitals are calling on public support, issuing appeals for things like masks and protective suits for medical workers. One doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, said hospitals would rather wait for support from the central government. But right now they have no other option. To add to the problem, Friday (January 24) marked the start of the seven-day Lunar New Year holiday in China. That means manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of medical gear will close and could exacerbate the shortages. Health authorities are also fearing a boom in the infection rate - as hundreds of millions of people travel around China and abroad for the holiday. China has now suspended public transport in 10 cities, and shut temples, as measures are stepped up to contain the virus. Wuhan is in virtual lockdown. The sprawling metropolis - home to 11 million people - is surrounded by checkpoints, with travel in and out of the city tightly controlled. Inside the government is building a brand new hospital over a weekend. Local media said bulldozers and diggers arrived Thursday (January 23) night to begin construction with the aim to have a 1,000-bed facility functioning by Monday (January 27). It's mirroring the outbreak of SARS in 2003, when Beijing built a hospital in just one week to cope with the virus that went on to kill nearly 800 people worldwide. The World Health Organisation has declared this virus an emergency for China - but has so far stopped short of declaring it an epidemic of international concern. It's been causing alarm though because of the number of unanswered questions, like how easily it can spread, and how to cure the hundreds of people already infected.

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