Beijing city cancels major public events including Chinese New Year temple fairs due to coronavirus outbreak

Beijing has canceled major public events, including Chinese New Year temple fairs, over the coronavirus outbreak that has killed 17 people and prompted public transport shut-downs in other major cities.

The decision was made by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism in order to "put people's lives and health first."

The announcement about public events in Beijing follows a decision to launch traffic restrictions in several cities that are close to the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

Previously, the city of Wuhang, where the outbreak originated, was put on lockdown with transport services suspended and residents advised not to leave the city.

China's State Railway Group said passengers could get refunds for rail tickets nationwide from January 24.

The 2019-nCoV virus is said to have originated at Wuhan’s Hunan Seafood Market in December. A zoonotic disease, it originally spread from animals to humans – but on Monday, Chinese health officials confirmed the virus is capable of spreading between humans. There are over 500 confirmed cases in China so far.