Train operations have been suspended in many China’s provinces as precautions against the spread of China killer disease, Coronavirus.
Railway authorities announced the suspension on Saturday and said it would last at least until February 25.
Full refunds will be given to those who have purchased tickets, the authorities said even as New York Times reported China as also saying on Saturday that it would suspend all tour groups and the sale of flight and hotel packages for its citizens headed overseas, starting on Monday.
Railway stations in Shanghai were expected to handle about 85,000 passengers on Saturday with extra trains to Anhui and Jiangxi provinces arranged.
It stated that channels had been established at the exits of stations for passengers from major infected areas.
It was only the 16th day of Chunyun, the Spring Festival travel rush, which would last about 40 days.
In the Yangtze River Delta, around half a million passengers travelled on Saturday.
On Friday, the Chinese New Year Eve, close to a million passengers were on trains in the region.
Passengers had their temperatures checked at railway stations and on trains, with disinfection enhanced.
A total of 50,000 masks and 12 boxes of temperature-testing devices were delivered to Wuhan from Nanjing South and Hangzhou East stations on Friday night.
The association for China’s travel agencies said tour groups that were in the middle of their trips could proceed with their itineraries but should closely monitor the health of their travellers, according to the New York Times.
This measure may come as welcome news to countries that have been gearing up to screen travellers from China for fevers and other signs of infection.
The Beijing city government also announced on Saturday that it would suspend all inter-province buses from Sunday, effectively limiting road travel into the capital.
The measures, taken hundreds of miles from Wuhan, where the outbreak of a novel coronavirus began, were a sign that concerns over the spread of the outbreak have crept close to central government offices and the ruling Communist Party’s seat of power.
Wuhan also tightened its restrictions further on Saturday with a ban on vehicle traffic in the city centre, to begin at midnight.
The local government said some vehicles would be exempted, including shuttle buses and trucks moving supplies.
Residents responded with frustration on social media. One woman, who said she was pregnant and near her due date, asked if she was supposed to walk to her gynaecologist’s office.
All the reported deaths from the outbreak have been in mainland China, but travellers have spread the virus to numerous other places.
Cases have been confirmed in Australia, Malaysia, Nepal, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, France and the United States.