The virus was first detected in late December in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital. Since the outbreak started, 17 people have been reported dead, with most of the casualties in the city. The source of the outbreak is suspected to be a seafood market selling wild animals. The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that the virus originated in an animal and was passed along to a human, where it mutated and became transmissible from person to person.
Officials estimate that at least 571 people have been infected with the coronavirus, which originates from the SARS family of viruses. As previously noted by The Inquisitr, the 2002 SARS outbreak infected thousands and killed 774 people worldwide, largely targeting the elderly demographic. In addition to concern for the health and well-being of Chinese citizens, authorities also fear that the new coronavirus will devastate the country's economy, similar to the effects of SARS in 2002.
In Wuhan on Thursday, all transport links to and from the city were suspended, including buses, the subway system, and ferries. Additionally, airports and train stations were closed to outgoing passengers. Residents are being encouraged to stay inside and avoid contact with anyone who may have come in contact with the virus.
Due to the citywide panic, supermarket shelves and local markets have sold out of most products as people prepare to isolate themselves in their homes. Pharmacies have also reportedly sold out of face masks, following the orders for all residents and government workers to wear masks while in public spaces.Special police forces have been dispatched to enforce the transport blockades.
Despite the attempts to quarantine the virus, residents believe that the actions are too little, too late.
Xiao, a 26-year-old primary school teacher in Wuhan, commented on the lockdown.
"When I saw the news when I woke up, I felt like I was going to go crazy. This is a little too late now. The government's measures are not enough."Others have been posting updates on social media sites as they await further instruction from the government.
"No more going out... so I won't get sick," one internet user posted on Weibo. "Hope Wuhan can get some support soon."
The lockdown went into effect at 2 a.m. on Thursday morning. Local authorities announced that citizens would be notified when restrictions were lifted.