Authorities in China have expanded quarantine orders to stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
Quarantine orders have now restricted travel from five Chinese cities, affecting tens of millions of people, according to the New York Times. Thus far at least 17 people people have been killed and more than 570 cases of coronavirus have emerged.
On Thursday China’s National Health Commission (NHC) called for a quarantine of the city of Wuhan, where the virus first appeared. That initial quarantine order affected a city of more than 11 million people.
Later that evening, the quarantine order was expanded to include the nearby city of Huanggang, where 7.5 million people reside. Rail stations were also closed down at the nearby city of Ezhou, affecting a city with more than million residents. Travel restrictions were also placed on the smaller cities of Chibi and Zhijiang where around half a million people live in each city.
According to the Washington Post, the total number of people in the region affected by the travel restrictions amounts to around 25 million people — a number greater than the population of Florida.
The quarantines come at a particularly critical time as the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration approaches. Millions of people are typically expected to travel for those celebrations, but travel could raise the possibility of increased contact with those infected by the coronavirus.
The virus has already spread in several instances, as cases have appeared as far north as Harbin and as far south as Shenzhen. The chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau have also reported cases and the disease has spread beyond China in several instances.
Cases have been reported in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.
The U.S. Center For Disease Control (CDC) also identified a case on Tuesday where one resident of Snohomish Co. Wash. contracted the disease while traveling in China. That particular victim, a male in his 30s, was reported to be a “very healthy” condition despite contracting the virus. The man was reportedly isolated at a medical center in the state.
Several major U.S. airports have also begun screening efforts to identify travelers who may have contracted the coronavirus.