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Life inside ground zero of Wuhan coronavirus outbreak

The Lunar New Year -- the most important festival in the Chinese calendar -- is just three days away, but in the Chinese city of Wuhan, there are few reasons to celebrate.
A deadly outbreak of the new coronavirus emerged in this city of 11 million people last month. Within weeks, the virus has killed nine people, sickened hundreds and spread as far as the United States.
Wuhan has been on high alert since the number of confirmed infections surged into the hundreds earlier this week.
New year celebrations that had been expected to attract hundreds of thousands of people have been canceled. In some parts of the city, including a major shopping area, streets remain largely empty, with most people walking outside donning face masks. 
In the city's center, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market sits empty, its rows of stalls shuttered. Police and security officers in face masks stand guard outside, prohibiting anyone from filming or entering a cordoned off area.
The market has always been a popular spot at this time of the year, packed with shoppers stocking up on fish and seafood for Lunar New Year feasts with family and friends. 
Commuters wearing face masks walk in Hankou railway station in Wuhan, where China's coronavirous outbreak first emerged last month.
But this year, Chinese authorities and scientists say wild animals sold at this market are the likely source of the new strain of coronavirus, which is in the same family of viruses as the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
The virus -- which can infect humans and animals -- has since spread to Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States. Officials in Washington state confirmed the first case on US soil Tuesday.
The market has been closed since January 1 for disinfection, but health authorities have not found out which animals are the source.

'How can I not be worried?'

Not far from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, Xiao Chuan'an, from a neighboring city, is selling sugar cane she imported from southern Guangdong province.
"I do feel a bit scared," she told CNN. "How can I not be worried? The situation sounds really serious. The news on the phone sounds really scary."
The country's National Health Commission confirmed this week the virus can be transmitted between people, after Wuhan health authorities maintained for two weeks that there was "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission."
A staff member talks with a driver as he checks the body temperatures of passengers at an exit of a highway in Wuhan on Tuesday.
In Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, 270 people have been infected as of Wednesday, and nine of them have died, according to the commission. At least 453 cases had been confirmed throughout China, leading to fears of a possible epidemic.
Xiao said her family had repeatedly urged her to go home, fearing that she will catch the virus in Wuhan. But she wants to stay to sell the sugar cane. However, business has been bad -- people are too scared to come to the market to shop, she said.
"You can see now -- does it look like the atmosphere of Chinese New Year?" she said. "I don't know when the pneumonia epidemic will stop... I might have to eat instant noodles during Chinese New Year."

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