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A police officer wearing latex gloves holds a thermometer at a checkpoint on a street on the outskirts of Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on January 27, 2020, amid a deadly virus outbreak which began in the city. - China on January 27 extended its biggest national holiday to buy time in the fight against a viral epidemic and neighbouring Mongolia closed its border, after the death toll spiked to 81 despite unprecedented quarantine measures. AFP

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian woman who is in the Chinese province of Hubei – the epicentre of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak – has shared her experience of ringing in Chinese New Year amidst a lockdown imposed by the government there.

The 28-year-old, who wants to be identified only as Ima, said that she and her husband arrived at his hometown of Xiangyang, in Hubei, on Jan 21 to celebrate the Lunar New Year with her in-laws.

“During my transit in Wuhan, I noticed that the situation was very quiet, the roads were clear of people, (and there were people) in uniforms, believed to be soldiers, controlling entry and exit points.

“I (later) learned from my husband’s relatives, who live in Wuhan, that they were not allowed to leave their house.

“The situation is similar here (in Xiangyang). Chinese government (representatives) had distributed a circular, door-to-door, advising residents not to leave their houses to avoid the virus from spreading.

“Even roads leading to a nearby shop, located just 200 metres away from our house, was closed as the quarantine exercise intensified,” she said.

Ima said she is now unable to leave the city, as Xiangyang is in total lockdown, with public transportation halted, and private transport forbidden by the government in an effort to contain the virus which has so far killed 81 people and infected over 2,700 others.

The Johor Baru native, however, said the family has enough supply of food, as they had stocked up for the Chinese New Year celebration prior to the viral outbreak intensifying.

“The celebration this year was not as festive as in previous years. (In fact), the last time I left (this) house was on Jan 24,” she said.

Ima, who is supposed to return to Malaysia on Feb 8, is unsure of when she can leave, as it is not known how long the quarantine policy will be in place.

“I want to return home, but I am not sure if I am allowed to do so, since all transportation modes have been halted due to the quarantine.

“Since we do not know who is healthy or otherwise, my husband’s family and I are restricting our outdoor activities.

“We are also constantly checking our body temperature to ensure immediate action could be taken if any of us shows symptoms of the virus,” she added.

More than 20 cities in Hubei, including Wuhan – a metropolis of 11 million – have been placed under lockdown since the virus began spreading earlier this month.

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