Coronavirus: China closes the Great Wall and other tourist attractions

Great Wall

Not only has the coronavirus continued to infect people outside of China – including 61 confirmed cases on the quarantined cruise ship held in Yokohama harbour in Japan – China’s tourism sector is suffering, and it’s not alone

As the government launches an aggressive plan to contain and defeat the coronavirus before the summer, China has announced the temporary closure of most its tourist attractions in the country. The Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, the Potala Palace are among the closed attractions, and as Chinese tourists have been urged by their government to stay home, destinations popular among this demographic such as Japan, Australia and Thailand are also feeling the sting.

The World Health Organization has also reported that its still too soon to confirm whether the coronavirus – which has affected over 28,200 people globally and claimed the lives of 563 in China, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines – has reached its peak. However, WHO did report that Wednesday (5 Feb) was the first day that the overall number of new cases in China dropped.

"There has been a constant increase in cases in China's Hubei province, but we haven't seen that same acceleration in provinces outside Hubei," WHO spokesperson Mike Ryan said.

Within the Hubei province, the death of ophthalmologist Li Wenliang has caused mass public outcry. Li allegedly tried to a sound a warning about the potential viruses occurring in a Chinese province had for spreading out of control. According to numerous media outlets, in early January, he was called in by both medical officials and the police and forced to sign a statement denouncing his warning as an unfounded and illegal rumour.

“[Dr Li] had the misfortune to be infected during the fight against the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic, and all-out efforts to save him failed,” the Wuhan City Central Hospital said on Chinese microblogging site Weibo, the Chinese social media service. “We express our deep regret and condolences.”

As for the cruise ship that is being quarantined in Yokohama, the Diamond Princess is due to be held for two weeks in the harbour, preventing the 3,700 people on board from disembarking and spreading the virus. Sky News reports that many passengers have been consigned to their cabins, with one passenger comparing the experience to a ‘floating prison’ – small groups of passengers are permitted to access a controlled deck area for some sunlight, fresh air and exercise, but are not allowed to congregate in groups or get within a metre of one another.

At the time of writing, a total of 61 passengers have been diagnosed with coronavirus.