China tightened restrictions at the locked-down epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday, forbidding feverish people in Wuhan from visiting hospitals outside of their home districts.

The measure comes a day after authorities sealed off residential compounds in the central city, where the deadly novel coronavirus is believed to have originated in a market selling wild animals.

Wuhan has been under effective quarantine since January 23 when the government suspended transport links out of the city in a bid to contain the virus, which has so far killed 1,016 people and infected more than 42,600 across China.

In order to “contain the spread of the epidemic”, Wuhan residents with fever symptoms are only allowed to seek treatment at designated facilities in the district they live in, the city’s health commission said Tuesday.

People diagnosed with pneumonia who require observation must remain at the clinics, or at alternative premises provided by the facilities, the commission said in a notice.

Meanwhile, all residential compounds will be placed under “sealed management”, while buildings with known or suspected virus cases must be placed under even stricter watch, the Wuhan government said in a notice Monday.

The notice said the city — the capital of Hubei province — had “entered a key stage” in its fight against the virus.

No further details were provided in the statement on what “sealed management” involves.

The phrase has been used by local authorities elsewhere in China to describe sealing off all but a few exit points in a compound and checking the identification of all who enter and leave.

Wuhan Communist Party secretary Ma Guoqiang told a news conference Monday that a “general health survey of all the people” was being carried out in the city.

As of February 9, he said authorities had checked 10.6 million people.

Tens of millions of people in Hubei and surrounding provinces already face tight restrictions on their movement as authorities try to slow the spread of the virus.

Hubei has borne the brunt of the epidemic’s toll, with the vast majority of the fatalities occurring within the province.

– AFP

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