Three Chinese cities have been put into lockdown as fears over the coronavirus outbreak grow.
Chinese authorities have suspended all transport in and out of Wuhan, where the virus originated, in an effort to stop the virus spreading further.
They also said that they will impose travel bans in the cities of Huanggang and Ezhou, close to Wuhan.
China’s capital Bejing has cancelled New Year events to curb the spread of infection.
The virus has caused 17 deaths in the Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital.
Globally, only 500 cases have been confirmed but experts at Imperial Colleague estimate there could be 4,000 people infected in the city.
A growing sense of panic has left supermarket shelves empty as residents stockpile supplies and isolate themselves.
Some regional airlines – including Malaysia’s AirAsia and Singapore’s Scoot – have announced a temporary halt to flights to and from the city.
After a day of discussions yesterday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it would not yet declare a global emergency.
Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said more information was needed about how the infection is spreading.
Hong Kong officials reported the first two coronavirus cases on Wednesday, and said it would turn two holiday camps into quarantine zones.
On Tuesday the US confirmed its first case in Washington state. There have also been three cases in Thailand, one in South Korea, one in Japan and one in Taiwan.
Dubai today announced that it will begin screening passengers arriving on direct flights from China.
With concerns over a global pandemic looming, Japan has had to confront the possibility of contagion and disruption as it prepares to host the Olympics this summer.
Yesterday Heathrow airport set up a separate arrivals area for people travelling from Wuhan. There are three direct flights a week from the city to the UK.
Business secretary Andrew Leadsom today said: “We are now routinely checking all flights from Wuhan – obviously this is a huge concern for the world but in particular for that city in China… We will be guided by all of the advice that comes from the world health authorities.”