China coronavirus: Thousands left Wuhan before lockdown

Nearly half of Wuhan's 11 million population had left before the lockdown began

Thousands of people from Wuhan, China, left for other cities before the lockdown occurred.

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Wuhan is essentially ground zero for the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Citizens flew to Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Japan, according to the South China Morning Post.

Fears of a global pandemic were raised by the number of people leaving Wuhan in the 24 days between the first cases of infection being reported on December 30 and the decision to suspend travel out of the city last Thursday.

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Wuhan mayor Zhou Xianwang said on Sunday that nearly half of the city’s 11 million population had left before the lockdown began.

Mainland financial newspaper China Business News reported that Thailand was the most popular foreign destination for people from Wuhan between December 30 and January 22.

Domestically, the central Chinese provinces of Henan, Hunan and Anhui had received the most people from Wuhan since January 10, according to the South China Morning Post.

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The coronavirus outbreak, first reported in Wuhan in late December, had by Monday killed at least 80 people in China and infected more than 2,700, including 461 who were in critical condition.

It remained unclear whether the lockdown of Wuhan and 13 nearby cities was effective in reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

China on Monday suspended sales of flights and hotels abroad to Chinese and overseas tour groups.

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Several major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, the two largest, also suspended all inter-province buses from Sunday, limiting inward road travel.