The Indian Embassy in Beijing on Friday said that it has decided to cancel a reception on Sunday in view of the health emergency in China following the coronavirus outbreak. At least 25 people have died and over 800 have been infected so far by the virus in China.
The reception scheduled on Sunday was to mark India’s 71st Republic Day.
“In view of the evolving situation due to the coronavirus outbreak in China as well as the decision of Chinese authorities to cancel public gathering and events, [Indian Embassy in Beijing] has also decided to call off the Republic Day reception scheduled to be held [at the embassy] on January 26th,” a statement said.
At least ten cities are under lockdown in China and most major cities have banned public gatherings over the Lunar New Year holiday.
Transport to and from Wuhan were shut down on Thursday. This included flights, trains, buses, subways and ferries. Later that day, nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou announced similar measures. Travel restrictions have also been placed on Chibi, Zhijiang, Huangshi, Xiantao, Enshi, Qianjiang and Xianning cities, according to The Guardian. Entertainment venues such as cinemas and internet cafes, and large-scale cultural events have also been shut down in most cities.
China’s National Health Commission said the virus has infected 830 people so far and most cases are in the city of Wuhan. People in at least six other countries were found infected with the virus, including Thailand, South Korea, Japan, the United States, Singapore and Vietnam. Special Chinese administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, and Taiwan have also reported cases.
The coronavirus emerged from Wuhan in Hubei province of China and has led to an outbreak. All those infected were residents of Wuhan or recent visitors to the city. The virus has spread beyond China’s borders, raising concerns of a pandemic. The coronavirus is part of the same family as the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and the Middle East respiratory syndrome.
However, the World Health Organization said the disease was not yet a global health emergency. “Make no mistake, though, this is an emergency in China,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “It has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.”
The outbreak has cast a shadow over Lunar New Year celebrations. Hundreds of millions of people in China are expected to travel over the course of the new year period, which begins Saturday, both within the country and overseas. Health officials fear this travelling could spread the transmission.
Several countries have stepped up medical screening of travellers from China, particularly those from Wuhan. Passengers from China are facing screening measures at five US airports and a host of transport hubs across Asia, including seven airports in India. European airports from London to Moscow have also stepped up checks and Nigeria, which has many citizens working in China, said it would start checks at entry points.