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Coronavirus Outbreak In China Accelerates

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Switching gears now, China's president, Xi Jinping, said today his country is facing a grave situation because the spread of a new virus is accelerating. So far, there are nearly 1,300 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in China alone. At least 41 people have died, and there's concern that the virus is being spread as people travel for the Lunar New Year holiday. Chinese authorities have imposed travel restrictions affecting millions of people in several major cities, including Wuhan, where the outbreak is thought to have started. We spoke to one resident there today.

Diana Adama is an American expatriate who's lived in China for about 15 years. She said it's getting harder and harder to move around in Wuhan.

DIANA ADAMA: Right now, everybody is on quarantine in their homes. Everybody at the hospitals are stuck there. Wherever you're getting stuck right now, you're there. You cannot leave.

MARTIN: Adama said all vehicle traffic has been halted in the city and that fresh produce is starting to run out at local stores. News reports from Wuhan describe some local hospitals as overwhelmed with patients, all of which prompted the State Department to order the evacuation of all staff at the U.S. consulate in Wuhan, along with their families. But Adama said other Americans in the city are confused.

ADAMA: We don't even know what's really going on. And you think anybody's going to get us out of here? We're in quarantine. There's a reason for quarantine - that's so we can keep other people safe and ourselves safe and try to beat this virus.

MARTIN: That was Diana Adama, an American living in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the current coronavirus outbreak. A statement on the website of the American Embassy in Beijing says only that the U.S. government has a limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the Wuhan region.

(SOUNDBITE OF AIR'S "LA FEMME D'ARGENT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.