China broadens lockdowns as coronavirus death toll rises

China broadened on Friday its unprecedented, open-ended lockdowns to encompass more than 20.5 million people as the government tries to contain a deadly new virus that has killed at least 26 people and infected about 830 others.

At the same time, Beijing confirmed two coronavirus deaths outside of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

At least six cities were also added to the list of places under lockdown, all in central China’s Hubei province, where the illness originated. That brings to at least 10 the number of cities covered in the lockdown order.

In Wuhan, where the lockdown began early on Thursday, normally bustling streets, malls and other public spaces were eerily quiet. Masks were mandatory in public.

The railway station and the airport were closed, and ferry, subway and bus services were halted; police checked all incoming vehicles but did not close off the roads.

The other cities under lockdown as of Friday morning are near Wuhan, but authorities were taking precautions around the country.

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