Beijing has nixed plans for all large-scale Chinese Lunar New Year festivities as the deadly coronavirus spreads to hundreds and two more cities restricted travel.
Officials said Thursday they’ve cancelled a number of public New Year celebrations in an effort to contain the outbreak of the flu-like virus, which can be transmitted from person to person, CNN reported.
“In order to control the epidemic, protect people’s lives and health, reduce the mass gathering and ensure people to have a harmonious and peaceful Spring Festival, it is decided to cancel all the large-scale events, including temple fairs, in Beijing as of today,” the Beijing Culture and Tourism Bureau said in a statement.
The New Year celebrations — which run this year from Jan. 25 to Feb. 8 — are often marked with week-long fairs and visits to family and friends.
“We will notify [if there are] policy changes with the epidemic development … And wish all citizens a happy Spring Festival,” the statement said.
The decision comes as Huanggang and Ezhou on Thursday became the latest Chinese cities to restrict travel to stop the outbreak of the virus, which has killed 17 people and infected more than 630.
Huanggang officials announced they would suspend public bus and train operations starting Thursday at midnight.
They also ordered indoor entertainment venues, such as movie theaters and internet cafes, to shut down.
Huanggang is home to around 7.5 million people and borders the central city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged.
Another nearby city, Ezhou, also announced that it would close all train stations, impacting around 1 million residents.
The travel restrictions come after Wuhan decided to shut down all transportation networks and suspend outgoing flights.
Fears have heightened about the virus’ spread through international travel as four other countries confirmed cases. Thailand has detected four cases, while Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States have each reported one.