Amid frantic attempts to contain the coronavirus, Mongolia closed its border to China while Hong Kong and Malaysia banned visitors from the province from which the Wuhan virus originated.
On Monday, China announced the expansion of its Lunar New Year holiday to February 9. On January 22, China locked down Wuhan’s plane, train, and bus arteries to the rest of the country. The restrictions have now extended to 17 cities, restricting more than 50 million.
China Health Minister Ma Xiaowei said the country was entering a “crucial stage” as “it seems like the ability of the virus to spread is getting stronger.” Worse yet, the virus seems to be infectious well before symptoms appear, meaning it could be significantly more contagious than believed up until this point.
Despite these unprecedented, historic countermeasures, attempts at containment continue to prove ineffective. The coronavirus has now infected almost 3,000 Chinese citizens and killed 81. Five cases have been confirmed on U.S. soil in Washington state, Chicago, southern California, and Arizona, respectively.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, expressed a growing concern within the organization. “We need to be preparing as if this is a pandemic, but I continue to hope that it is not,” she said.
As a matter of national safety, Mongolia has decided to close the border it shares with China according to state-run news agency Montsame. They have also shut down schools, universities, and playgrounds until at least March 2.
Montsame further reported that, in the interest of preparation, “the cabinet gave an order to acquire all necessary medical equipment and materials,” and use the “government’s reserve fund” to “finance the expenses of the emergency procurement and salaries of doctors and medical employees who are working on alert.”