Wuhan in China under Quarantine

China, Wuhan, pandemic outbreak, ASEAN, air transport

Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province in Central China, is now isolated from the world due to the pandemic that is currently spreading across Asia and originating from this city. Wuhan has a population of 8.8 to 10 million people. All land and air links are suspended until further notice.

Isolating Wuhan is not an easy task as population is ranging from 8.8 million to 10 million inhabitants depending on whether the urban area or the whole metropolis is included. But Chinese authorities -faced with a flu epidemic similar to the SARS outbreak of 2003- decided to take authoritarian measures. They simply resolved to quarantine the entire city. Since 10:00 this morning (Beijing time), the city population has been forbidden to leave the Wuhan metropolitan area.

This has resulted in the immediate suspension of all rail, air and road lines connecting Wuhan to the rest of the country. Wuhan airport is one of the most important airports in China. In 2018, it was ranked 16th in the country with a traffic of more than 24.5 million passengers. The airport has an important international activity by being connected to about thirty cities in the world by scheduled or charter flights. This includes many ASEAN cities such as Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Singapore or Sihanoukville among others…

This morning, the latest international flights took off for Bangkok and Hong Kong. Scoot in Singapore announced also the immediate suspension of its flight to Hubei capital.

Wuhan train station is also quarantined. It is integrated into the TGV network connecting the metropolis on the Chengdu-Shanghai line as well as on the north-south Beijing-Canton-Hong Kong axis. All trains have also been suspended since this morning, as well as boats crossing the Yangtze River and Wuhan underground train system.

On Thursday morning, China officially declared 471 cases of contamination in 13 provinces of the country. Seventeen people have already died in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.

Health authorities in Asia are now tackling the problem head-on. Singapore, which has recorded 10 cases of fever and pneumonia from people coming to or transiting through Wuhan, has placed these patients in isolation, while a travel ban has just been issued in this part of China.  There have been two cases of contagion in Thailand and one each in Japan and the United States. Fever detectors are now installed in many airports around Asia including Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in ASEAN.