Ten cities in Hubei have been placed under emergency travel restrictions to control the spread of the coronavirus, including the provincial capital Wuhan, where the new pathogen was first detected.
Wuhan is under effective lockdown, with all public transport in and out of the city closed.
Other cities across Hubei are under less severe travel restrictions, but the number of cities affected is growing. They include Ezhou, Huanggang, Chibi, Xiantao, Zhijiang, Qianjiang, Huangshi, Xianning and Yichang.
Earlier Friday, the province upgraded its emergency response level to 1, the highest level. Beijing and Shanghai have also instituted Level 1 emergency responses, as have several other cities across China.
Restrictions include shutting down railway stations, bus stations, intercity transport links, or preventing private vehicles from driving on certain roads. Authorities in each of the cities have not yet announced when these restrictions will be lifted.
Health officials fear the transmission rate will accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during week-long holidays for the Lunar New Year, which begins on Saturday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged that the respiratory illness is an emergency in China, but said it is too early to declare it a global one.
The number of cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus as of January 23 has gone up to 830, while the death toll from the virus has risen to 26, the National Health Commission announced on Friday.
The virus that originated in Hubei has now spread to other Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the United States, Thailand, South Korea and Japan.