Coronavirus outbreak

Hubei bans vehicle traffic as new party boss intensifies lockdown

Medical staff and government workers waiting for patients to arrive, outside a hospital just designated to take in critical coronavirus patients in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Saturday.
Medical staff and government workers waiting for patients to arrive, outside a hospital just designated to take in critical coronavirus patients in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Saturday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

China's worst-hit province Hubei has intensified its lockdown measures by banning vehicle traffic in the latest move to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A provincial government notice yesterday said all cars, except ambulances, police cars and vehicles transporting essential supplies, will be prohibited on the roads.

Companies are also not allowed to resume business unless they have approval from the authorities, while residents must undergo health checks and are restricted from leaving their communities.

The tougher measures come just four days after former Shanghai mayor Ying Yong took over Hubei's top political job. His predecessor, Mr Jiang Chaoliang, was sacked as party chief amid public anger over the poor handling of the crisis.

Mr Ying is widely seen as an ally of President Xi Jinping and a member of the "New Zhijiang Army", a term used by political pundits to describe those closely associated with Mr Xi during his time as Zhejiang province's party boss.

Provincial capital Wuhan has banned motor vehicles from its roads since Jan 26 after the government ordered a lockdown of the city and suspended public transport.

Other cities in Hubei have also been subject to lockdowns and severe restrictions on the movement of their residents.

The Hubei government yesterday ordered all "non-essential" public venues except supermarkets and pharmacies to shut and barred gatherings. The authorities said they will arrange for daily necessities to be sent to residents confined to homes.

Another directive was aimed at party members and cadres, who have been ordered to the villages to help curb the spread of the virus.

 

"Those who do not take the initiative to report or disobey the deployment shall be dealt with resolutely and seriously, and the head of the unit shall be held accountable," said the government notice.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2020, with the headline 'Hubei bans vehicle traffic as new party boss intensifies lockdown'. Print Edition | Subscribe