China will quarantine Wuhan City as the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus has risen. The virus was first identified in the city of Wuhan, which is home to 11 million people.

Chinese officials said on Wednesday that it would “temporarily” close railway stations and the airport of Wuhan, a move that will affect all outbound passengers, according to CNN. The move is done to contain the virus and will affect all public transport services including buses and ferries.

Wuhan City’s coronavirus command center announced that the lockdown starts at 10 am local time on Thursday or 9 pm ET Wednesday. There are already 17 recorded deaths due to the deadly virus prompting officials to take measures to contain its spread.

The Chinese government urged people to cancel trips to Wuhan saying that the travel ban is an “extremely crucial” step in stopping the virus’ spread, according to Business Insider. The quarantine announcement comes just ahead of the Lunar New Year, a peak travel season in the country when as many as 3 billion Chinese are expected to go home.

According to Chinese officials, there are at least 547 confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland. The virus caused eight deaths in the central Chinese province of Hubie, where Wuhan is the capital city.

There have already been reported cases of coronavirus infections outside mainland China. Cases were already reported in Taiwan as well as in the Chinese territory of Macao.

Authorities fear that the virus could become a worldwide problem. There were already cases reported in Japan, Thailand, and South Korea as well as suspected cases in Australia. Worldwide, reported cases have already reached 555 since the virus was detected last December.

The World Health Organization said that the quarantine will help minimize the virus from spreading internationally. “What they're doing is a very, very strong measure, and with full commitment,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

But there are those who believe that the travel ban might not be effective. Johns Hopkins University Eric Toner told Business Insider that, considering the number of cases already reported, “any sort of travel restrictions are likely to be ineffective.”

Erasmus Medical Center virologist Bart Haagmans says that the problem with viral infections is that a fraction of those infected shows only mild symptoms. Unless detected, these people could still spread the virus.