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Life inside ground zero of Wuhan coronavirus outbreak

CNN international correspondent David Culver reports from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, where the city has set up stricter measures to stop the virus from spreading.

Posted: Jan 22, 2020 7:50 AM
Updated: Jan 22, 2020 7:50 AM

The Lunar New Year -- the most important festival in the Chinese calendar -- is just three days away, but in the Chinese city of Wuhan, there are few reasons to celebrate.

A deadly outbreak of the new coronavirus emerged in this city of 11 million people last month. Within weeks, the virus has killed nine people, sickened hundreds and spread as far as the United States.

Wuhan has been on high alert since the number of confirmed infections surged into the hundreds earlier this week.

New year celebrations that had been expected to attract hundreds of thousands of people have been canceled. In some parts of the city, including a major shopping area, streets remain largely empty, with most people walking outside donning face masks.

In the city's center, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market sits empty, its rows of stalls shuttered. Police and security officers in face masks stand guard outside, prohibiting anyone from filming or entering a cordoned off area.

The market has always been a popular spot at this time of the year, packed with shoppers stocking up on fish and seafood for Lunar New Year feasts with family and friends.

But this year, Chinese authorities and scientists say wild animals sold at this market are the likely source of the new strain of coronavirus, which is in the same family of viruses as the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

The virus -- which can infect humans and animals -- has since spread to Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States. Officials in Washington state confirmed the first case on US soil Tuesday.

The market has been closed since January 1 for disinfection, but health authorities have not found out which animals are the source.

'How can I not be worried?'

Not far from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, Xiao Chuan'an, from a neighboring city, is selling sugar cane she imported from southern Guangdong province.

"I do feel a bit scared," she told CNN. "How can I not be worried? The situation sounds really serious. The news on the phone sounds really scary."

The country's National Health Commission confirmed this week the virus can be transmitted between people, after Wuhan health authorities maintained for two weeks that there was "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission."

In Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, 270 people have been infected as of Wednesday, and nine of them have died, according to the commission. At least 453 cases had been confirmed throughout China, leading to fears of a possible epidemic.

Xiao said her family had repeatedly urged her to go home, fearing that she will catch the virus in Wuhan. But she wants to stay to sell the sugar cane. However, business has been bad -- people are too scared to come to the market to shop, she said.

"You can see now -- does it look like the atmosphere of Chinese New Year?" she said. "I don't know when the pneumonia epidemic will stop... I might have to eat instant noodles during Chinese New Year."

Emergency measures

The city government announced a series of new measures Tuesday to contain the outbreak -- efforts some critics say came too late -- the virus has already spread to a dozen provinces across the country.

Tour agencies in Wuhan have been banned from taking groups out of the city. Infrared thermometers have been installed at the airport, train stations, coach terminals and passenger piers to measure the temperatures of passengers departing the city since January 14, according to state media.

The city has over 60 routes connecting Wuhan with international cities, including direct flights to New York, San Francisco, Sydney, Paris and London, as well as over a hundred internal flights to other major Chinese cities. It is also a hub for the country's high-speed rail network.

At the high-speed rail station, the only faces that stand out are the uncovered ones, with the vast majority of passengers donning masks. As they prepare to exit the station, a railway staff member -- also wearing a mask and gloves -- puts a thermometer at the head of each passenger, checking for a fever.

On a high speed train from Beijing to Wuhan, railway attendants and security guards left their faces uncovered. A train attendant told CNN they were asked by management not to wear masks, as it may trigger a panic among passengers.

But she added that the train company is preparing to purchase masks and they will begin wearing them should the situation worsen.

Some hotels in the city said they will also screen guests, checking their temperature and asking them to sanitize their hands upon entry.

On Wednesday, the general manager of the Westin hotel in Wuhan told CNN he had asked staff to start wearing face masks "for both their safety and for the safety of our guests."

Others, however, are less worried about the outbreak. Yan Weixi, a jackfruit seller who did not wear a mask, said she did not find the situation "so scary."

"I have been checking online instructions... like drinking more water or washing your hands more frequently. I think that should be fine," said Yan, from northeastern Heilongjiang province, who is spending her first Lunar New Year in Wuhan.

"The most important thing is to keep a positive attitude, because if you're more scared, it's more likely you would catch the virus," she said. "That's my opinion."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295001

Reported Deaths: 3535
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin624331107
Ramsey26238493
Anoka20851224
Dakota20527189
Stearns13245106
Washington13220111
St. Louis8141108
Scott798154
Wright720338
Olmsted639934
Sherburne552241
Clay473356
Carver443213
Blue Earth395813
Rice393335
Kandiyohi378719
Crow Wing344731
Nobles301429
Chisago29799
Otter Tail288820
Benton285847
Winona266629
Mower248523
Douglas242235
Polk238223
Morrison224027
Lyon206711
Beltrami202517
McLeod198511
Becker194015
Goodhue190628
Steele18336
Itasca179123
Isanti179016
Todd173912
Carlton170414
Nicollet154925
Freeborn14795
Mille Lacs145131
Le Sueur141111
Waseca135911
Cass133310
Brown131215
Pine12788
Meeker11638
Roseau11074
Hubbard107523
Martin105520
Wabasha9941
Redwood87518
Dodge8230
Chippewa8157
Watonwan8104
Cottonwood7942
Renville77322
Sibley7564
Wadena7476
Aitkin71729
Rock7149
Pipestone69618
Houston6534
Fillmore6510
Yellow Medicine61511
Pennington6137
Murray5623
Kanabec55713
Swift5448
Faribault5251
Pope5071
Clearwater4817
Stevens4813
Jackson4581
Marshall4508
Lake3916
Unassigned38659
Koochiching3675
Wilkin3605
Lac qui Parle3513
Lincoln3331
Norman3307
Big Stone2962
Mahnomen2834
Grant2566
Red Lake2033
Kittson2027
Traverse1391
Lake of the Woods941
Cook630

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 223783

Reported Deaths: 2330
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33166333
Linn13991164
Scott1100384
Black Hawk10795134
Woodbury10255124
Johnson940036
Dubuque913491
Story674921
Dallas629057
Pottawattamie617069
Sioux366725
Webster357033
Cerro Gordo349644
Marshall346345
Clinton322840
Buena Vista302214
Muscatine282668
Des Moines282419
Warren276411
Plymouth270641
Wapello251571
Jones228413
Jasper214643
Marion202919
Lee199416
Carroll196422
Bremer192612
Henry18107
Crawford174115
Benton167418
Tama153340
Jackson143013
Delaware141021
Washington138214
Dickinson135810
Boone134811
Mahaska126127
Wright12226
Buchanan115410
Clay11504
Hardin114010
Page11144
Hamilton11009
Clayton10875
Harrison106629
Cedar106213
Calhoun10607
Kossuth10426
Floyd103916
Mills10297
Fayette102210
Lyon10188
Butler9916
Poweshiek98213
Winneshiek95812
Iowa93012
Winnebago91323
Hancock8547
Louisa84916
Grundy84611
Chickasaw8424
Sac8407
Cherokee8214
Cass80222
Allamakee79011
Appanoose77910
Mitchell7794
Humboldt7635
Shelby76111
Union7576
Emmet74924
Guthrie74115
Franklin73421
Jefferson7062
Madison6764
Palo Alto6474
Unassigned6470
Keokuk5777
Pocahontas5572
Howard5489
Greene5170
Osceola5171
Ida48113
Clarke4774
Taylor4603
Davis4548
Montgomery45011
Monroe43912
Adair4298
Monona4272
Fremont3553
Van Buren3545
Worth3540
Lucas3226
Decatur3160
Audubon2952
Wayne2957
Ringgold2082
Adams1652
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