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Hong Kong declares coronavirus emergency, 2-week school closure

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Hong Kong has declared the outbreak of a new virus an emergency and will close primary and secondary schools for two more weeks after the Lunar New Year holiday. City leader Carrie Lam also announced Saturday that trains and flights from the city of Wuhan would be blocked.

The outbreak began in Wuhan in central China and has spread to the rest of the country and overseas as people travel for the holiday. Hong Kong has confirmed five cases of the new illness. Most schools are off next week, and Lam said they would not re-open until Feb. 17.

The local South China Morning Post newspaper reported a marathon in Hong Kong that was expected to draw 70,000 participants on Feb. 9 was cancelled.

Wuhan, already on lockdown, will ban most vehicles including private cars from the downtown area in a further bid to limit the spread of a new disease that has infected nearly 1,300 people and killed 41.

State media said on Saturday that only authorized vehicles to carry supplies and for other needs would be permitted after midnight.

Authorities shut down public transportation in the city earlier this week, as well as flights and trains out of the city. They are trying to prevent the virus from spreading in the city and to other part of the country.

The transportation bans have been expanded to 16 cities, with three more added Saturday, holding a population of more than 50 million people hostage to the disease.

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