As of 23 January 2020, Chinese authorities have reported a total of at least 611 cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) — including 17 deaths due to the virus — in mainland China, bringing the number of confirmed cases globally to 622. Two cases of 2019-nCoV have been reported in Macao and two additional cases in Hong Kong. At least one case has been reported on the neighboring island of Taiwan. Chinese authorities are quarantining the city of Wuhan and at least two other nearby cities and are canceling public events to curb the potential spread of the new virus. The city of Wuhan — which comprises 11 million residents — remains on lockdown, with Wuhan Tianhe International Airport (ZHHH/WUH) temporarily closed. In addition, the city of Huanggang, located approximately 75 km (45 mi) east of Wuhan, will also be quarantined. All public and long distance passenger transportation services will be suspended beginning at 0000 on 24 January (1600 UTC on 23 January) in Huanggang. Passengers entering and exiting in vehicles will be subject to body temperature checks and authorities will inspect all animals. The central market, theaters, internet cafes, cultural and entertainment venues in Huanggang will be closed. Meanwhile, officials in Ezhou city, located approximately 15 km (10 mi) south and directly across the Yangtze River from Huanggang, shut down the railway station beginning on 23 January. Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing canceled planned Lunar New Year events as a precaution. The Forbidden City in Beijing will be closed until further notice to prevent a possible spread of the virus. In Hong Kong, authorities announced that travelers arriving by high-speed rail into the territory from mainland China will complete a health declaration form in addition to health checks, which have been enforced since at least early January 2020.
Elsewhere, health officials across the world are monitoring suspected cases of 2019-nCov and looking to set new screening procedures at travel entry points. At least two cases have been confirmed in Vietnam, while officials are investigating a possible case of 2019-nCoV in the Australian state of New South Wales. A suspected case of 2019-nCoV in the Philippines has proven false and the patient has been released. Two suspected cases of 2019-nCov in St. Petersburg, Russia, were also released after testing negative for the virus. However, a suspected case in Singapore was confirmed after testing. Authorities stated that the patient was a traveler from China and that two other suspected cases have emerged. However, all three patients were quarantined for treatment and monitoring. An Indian national working at a hospital in Abha, Saudi Arabia is also undergoing testing for 2019-nCoV; officials have not yet confirmed the status of that case and details on how this patient may have contracted the illness remain unknown. Saudi authorities have announced plans to screen passengers arriving on flights from China.
Additionally, Singapore Airlines’ carrier Scoot canceled its daily flight from Singapore Changi Airport (WSSS/SIN) to Wuhan Tianhe International Airport (ZHHH/WUH). The cancellation will be in effect through at least 26 January. Philippine authorities have announced that as of 23 January no airport in the Philippines will accept flights originating from Wuhan, where the virus was initially detected in December 2019.