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Wuhan (CNB News) – The authorities of Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province, have suspended all forms of public transport, including outbound trains and flights, as of 10:00 a.m. on Thursday to contain the spread of a new coronavirus that has caused the recent pneumonia outbreak and claimed 17 lives in three weeks, according to the Pneumonia Epidemic Control Headquarters of Wuhan.

The public transport services being shut down include the bus, subway and ferry services. There has been no word on inbound trains and flights.

The highways remained open initially but were ordered to close a few hours later, CCTV learned from local highway administrators in Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located.

China’s Transport Ministry also made an announcement on Thursday afternoon, ordering the temporary suspension of all forms of public transportation into Wuhan amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Alternative arrangements should be made for those transiting through Wuhan, and passengers are not allowed to get on or off. Trains, shuttle buses and ferries that are on the way to Wuhan will be asked to stop and return to their place of origin, the announcement wrote.

The headquarters also asked residents not to leave Wuhan “without special reasons.”

This is the first public announcement made by the headquarters, which was formed on Wednesday under the command of Major Zhou Xianwang.

Social media users have started to call the suspension of transport “the Wuhan lockdown.” But that’s not accurate because the highway is still available and people can still travel to Wuhan by train and air, if it’s absolutely necessary.

More than 56,000 comments have been posted under the  Wuhan government’s official announcement on Weibo, most of which are trying to encourage people in the city to stay calm and faithful.

“Don’t panic. Believe your country and your doctors… The whole country is with you. We can make it!” said a comment that was liked more than 147,000 times.

Social media users in China are paying close attention to the outbreak. As of 9:30 a.m. BJT, 33 out of the 50 most searched terms on Weibo were directly related to the outbreak.

At least 580 cases involving the new coronavirus strain have been reported across the world as of 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, including one in the U.S., one in Japan, four in Thailand and one in South Korea.

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