Riverdance star Michael Flatley’s Irish dance group touring China has had to cancel its shows in Beijing amid fears it would be left stranded if the coronavirus outbreak rapidly sweeping the country continues to escalate.
Eight performances of Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games were scheduled in the Chinese capital but all of them have been cancelled at the last minute to allow the dancers time to flee the country.
MailOnline understands the 23-strong troupe feared they may be stranded in China if officials choose to lock down more provinces to prevent the spread of the deadly SARS-like infection.
The group are currently in Taiwan – which has also recorded cases of the coronavirus – for five shows as part of their world tour. The group will head to Mexico next week before flying to Europe.
The cancellations come as almost 4,600 people have been struck down by the killer virus. Leading experts today warned the outbreak – which has killed at least 106 people – will continue to run for several months.
Chinese officials have already taken the unprecedented step of locking down Hubei – the province at the heart of the outbreak, effectively trapping millions of residents until the virus dies down.
Eight performances of Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games were scheduled in the Chinese capital but all of them have been cancelled at the last minute (pictured, some of the dancers wearing face masks at an airport, thought to be in China)
MailOnline understands the 23-strong troupe feared they may be stranded in China if officials choose to lock down more provinces to prevent the spread of the deadly SARS-like infection (pictured, two of the dancers wearing face masks at an airport)
Michael Flatley, the Lord Of The Dance sensation, directs the Dangerous Games performance
The group are currently in Taiwan – which has also recorded cases of the coronavirus – for five shows as part of their world tour. The group will head to Mexico next week before flying to Europe
Six members of the Lord of the Dance touring party already spent time in a hospital in Beijing due to illness.
Tests later confirmed they had a bacterial infection – all of them were cured by taking antibiotics.
Discussing the ordeal, one member of the touring party – who hasn’t been named – told MailOnline: ‘Seeing the inside of a Beijing fever-screening clinic during a pandemic was an interesting experience.
‘The real fun was getting through all the airport screenings and having to explain across the language barrier that fever, cough, runny nose and headache were from something other than the coronavirus.’
The group of 23 dancers includes 14 men and 19 women, whose ages range between 18 and 25. They had previously performed for six consecutive sold out nights in Shanghai.
Their Beijing dates, hosted at the prestigious National Centre for the Performing Arts, were scheduled for Saturday, January 26 until Thursday, January 30.
Residents in Xikangzhuang, close to the border of Shanxi province, have built entire walls out of brick, reportedly to ‘stop outsiders coming to our village’
Japanese officials prepare to load various supplies such as face masks into a charter plane bound for Wuhan at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. The flight is to evacuate Japanese nationals from the Chinese city that has been hit by the outbreak of a new deadly coronavirus
Pictured, the wall in Xikangzhuang, which is in Hebei – the province surrounding the capital Beijing, where dozens of cases have been recorded
A worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant in an office building in Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong Province, Tuesday January 28
CORONAVIRUS: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
What is this virus?
The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild respiratory infections such as the common cold.
But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.
Can it kill?
Yes. 106 people have so far died after testing positive for the virus.
What are the symptoms?
Its symptoms are a fever, cough and trouble breathing, but some patients have developed pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the small air sacs in the lungs. People carrying the novel coronavirus may only have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. They may assume they have a common cold and not seek medical attention, experts fear.
How is it detected?
The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China to the rest of the world to enable other countries to quickly diagnose potential new cases. This helps other countries respond quickly to disease outbreaks.
To contain the virus, airports are detecting infected people with temperature checks. But as with every virus, it has an incubation period, meaning detection is not always possible because symptoms have not appeared yet.
CLICK HERE TO SEE MAILONLINE’S FULL Q&A ON THE CORONAVIRUS
In other developments to the escalating crisis today, A German man has become the first person in Europe to catch the virus without even going to China.
The unidentified 33-year-old caught the disease in his home country on January 21 from a colleague visiting from China and later became ill on her flight home.
She was from Shanghai but had recently visited her parents in Wuhan, according to reports.
The German man’s case is one of four – men in Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan have also been infected at home.
Countries around the world are starting to cut ties with China and pull their citizens out of the crisis-hit Hubei region, where the virus emerged in the city of Wuhan.
Hong Kong’s leader today held a press conference during which she wore a face mask and said the city would stop all high-speed trains and ferries to the mainland.
In a dramatic intervention, she also announced Hong Kong would halve the number of flights and stop giving visas to visitors from China.
In Australia, paramedics wearing hazmat suits were seen at the luxury Peppers Broadbeach hotel on the Gold Coast.
And a health minister in Thailand today admitted that the country is ‘not able to stop’ the spread of the virus there, where 14 people have been infected.
But China is maintaining a solid front – President Xi Jinping today said the nation would ‘win the battle against the devil virus’.
And a Chinese scientist said he thinks the outbreak and the ‘battle of Wuhan’ will peak in 10 days’ time.