China virus claimed to be linked to bat soup

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BEIJING China virus, which has already claimed at least 17 lives in the city of Wuhan – which has since been put in lockdown, is feared to have spread to humans from bat soup. China put millions of people on lockdown in two cities at the epicenter of a coronavirus outbreak that has so far infected more than 630, as authorities around the world worked to prevent a global pandemic.Health officials fear the transmission rate will accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during the week-long holidays for the Lunar New Year, which begins on Saturday. The previously unknown virus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, reports the international media. Most transport in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, was suspended on Thursday and people were told not to leave. Hourslater, neighboring Huanggang, a city of about 7 million people, announced a similar lockdown. “The lockdown of 11 million people is unprecedented in public health history,” Gauden Galea, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) representative in Beijing, said. Other cities were also takingsteps to restrict movement and contact. Nearby Ezhou shut train stations. China’s Education Ministry said schools should not hold large events or exams. The capital canceled major public events, including two Lunar New Year temple fairs, the state-run Beijing News said. Airports worldwide were screening passengers arriving from China. Hong Kong, which has two confirmed cases, is turning two holiday camps into quarantine stations as a precaution. Taiwan has banned anyone from Wuhan from going to the island. Chinese people had their own ways of protecting themselves. “I go straight to where I need to go, and then I go home,” said 79- year-old Li Meihua, from behind a mask, on the streets of Shanghai. “My nose is a bit runny already. I’m also maintaining a cleaner diet, I’ve turned vegetarian now.” There is no vaccine for the virus, which can spread through respiratory transmission. Symptoms include fever, difficulty in breathing and cough, similar to many other respiratory illnesses. Preliminary research suggested it was passed on to humans from snakes, but government medical adviser Zhong Nanshan has also identified badgers and rats as possible sources. Experts have warned the virus could as deadly as the post WWI Spanish flu which killed millions.—AFP