China closed off the entire city of Wuhan and its 11 million residents today in an effort to contain the coronavirus that has spread in the Lunar New Year travel rush.

Outbound flights were cancelled and streets, shops, restaurants, and other public city venues were empty.

Police, SWAT teams, and paramilitary troops guarded the city's train station, where metal barriers block entrances.

World Health Organization China Representative Gauden Galea told AP: “To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science. It has not been tried before as a public health measure. We cannot at this stage say it will or it will not work."

Coronaviruses cause diseases in mammals and birds that include diarrhea in cows and pigs, upper respiratory disease in chickens and rare, but potentially lethal, human respiratory infections.

There are no vaccines or antiviral drugs approved for prevention or treatment.

Wuhan, China
Wuhan, ChinaiStock

Wuhan, China
Wuhan, ChinaiStock
Hubei Province
Hubei ProvinceiStock