China is extending the Lunar New Year holiday for three days and enforcing strict containment measures in an attempt to curb the spread of a new coronavirus that has killed 81 people and infected at more than 2,700.
More than 56 million people in almost 20 cities, including the Hubei capital of Wuhan, where the virus originated, have been affected by travel restrictions, introduced amid fears the transmission rate will balloon as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel during the Lunar New Year celebrations.
Health authorities around the world are taking action to prevent a pandemic as more countries report cases. Confirmed cases have so far been announced in several Asian countries, Europe and North America.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged the respiratory illness, which has been traced to the city of Wuhan, is an emergency in China but the organisation said on Thursday it was too early to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
Mongolia has closed its border crossing with China to cars and pedestrians and shut schools in an effort to halt the spread of the deadly virus.
Macau has said it will deny entry to visitors from China's Hubei province or those who visited the province 14 days prior to arrival unless they can provide documentation showing they are not infected.
Macau's government has also said it is banning anyone who had been to Hubei province within 14 days of arrival in the island from the premises of the city's casinos. Five cases have been reported in Macau.
China's finance ministry and National Health Commission have extended the 60.33 billion yuan ($8.74bn) to help contain the spreading virus, according to a statement on the ministry's website.
Darul Ihsan Media Desk