08:11 GMT20 February 2020
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    Multiple airlines and travel platforms have announced refund or rebooking policies for customers who planned to travel into or out of Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province. The province confirmed having 270 patients with the pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus as of 9:00 pm on Tuesday, the People's Daily reported.

    Wuhan on Tuesday issued a personnel control order covering entries and departures from the city in a bid to contain the disease's spread, China Central Television reported.

    Experts and travel industry practitioners noted that Wuhan may see lower population mobility associated with the Spring Festival travel season.

    Domestic online travel platform Lvmama launched a contingency plan to offer full refunds or rescheduling to its customers who had booked tickets or guided-travel products in Wuhan, according to a statement sent to the Global Times by the company on Tuesday. 

    Tianjin Airlines and Hainan Airlines have also posted statements to offer refunds without charge or rebooking policies for passengers who intended to travel to or from Wuhan.

    With favourable economic growth and a key geographical location, Wuhan has been a tourist hot spot and a city with high population mobility, Li Mingde, a former vice president of the Beijing Tourism Society, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

    The city's GDP stood at 1.15 trillion yuan ($167 billion) in the first three quarters of 2019, among 16 Chinese cities that achieved an annual GDP of 1 trillion yuan, according to the People's Daily.

    Wuhan's high-speed railway station can take people directly to 25 provinces and more than 40 cities in China, according to a report by domestic news site yicai.com.

    With many colleges and universities, Wuhan is said to be the hub with the largest number of college students in the world, and it has attracted many enterprises in need of talent.

    Now is a bad time for the outbreak of the virus, as people are heading to their hometowns for the Chinese Spring Festival, which leads to massive population mobility, Li said.

    The People's Daily issued a warning with a report headlined: "For now, it's better for people from outside Wuhan to stay out of the city, and Wuhan residents to stay in the city."

    Given that the pathogenesis of the disease has not been confirmed, it would be better for people to avoid areas with emerging and confirmed cases in the short term, Li suggested.

    A Beijing resident surnamed Tang, whose hometown is Wuhan, told the Global Times that he dropped his plan to go home for the Spring Festival due to concerns about the outbreak.

    Meanwhile, another Wuhan resident surnamed Hou told the Global Times that life is going on as usual, and she wears a mask while commuting. 

    "I hope the disease is brought under control in the short term," she said.

    This article originally appeared on the Global Times website.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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