Mask-wearing soldiers have been deployed to locked-down Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus which is sweeping the world from China.
Footage showed troops unloading supplies from the back of a jet in the city of 11million people to help contain the virus which has so far killed 56 in China, with more than 2,000 cases worldwide.
China’s health minister Ma Xiaowei said the country was entering a ‘crucial stage’ as ‘it seems like the ability of the virus to spread is getting stronger.’
Wuhan is building two makeshift hospitals with around 1,000 beds each to handle the influx of patients. Supplies being rushed to the city include 14,000 hazmat suits, 110,000 pairs of gloves and masks and goggles.
Medical workers in the city have been among those infected and local media reported a doctor died on Saturday morning. The 62-year-old physician was hospitalised on January 18 and died a week later.
Videos have circulated online showing throngs of frantic people in masks lined up for examinations and there have been complaints that family members had been turned away at hospitals that were at capacity.
Wuhan today banned most vehicle use, including private cars, in downtown areas. The city will assign 6,000 taxis to neighbourhoods to help people get around if they need to.