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Health Highlights: Jan. 23, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

China Bans Travel in Wuhan, Four Nearby Cities

The city of Wuhan was closed off Thursday by Chinese officials in an attempt to stem the spread of a coronavirus that's sickened more than 570 people and killed at least 17.

Buses, subways and ferries within the city of more than 11 million people were suspended, and planes and trains leaving the city were canceled, The New York Times reported.

Similar measures are taking effect in the nearby cities of Huanggang, with 7 million people, and Ezhou, with 1 million people, The Times reported. Officials also plan to restrict travel in the smaller cities of Chibi and Zhijiang, the newspaper reported.

The measures, taken days before the start of the Lunar New Year when millions of Chinese travel, were needed to "effectively cut off the transmission of the virus, resolutely curb the spread of the epidemic, and ensure the safety and health of the people," Chinese health officials said.

An end date for the restrictions would be announced separately, they added.

Wuhan is the epicenter of the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has already spread halfway around the world, including North America.

In the United States, where a case of coronavirus has already been reported, all airline passengers from Wuhan will be directed to one of five airports where screening of arriving passengers will be conducted.

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Surgical Gown Shortage Seen in U.S.

A surgical gown shortage in the United States is causing surgeries to be postponed, according to CNN.

Cardinal Health this month recalled and told customers to stop using its Level 3 surgical gowns and the procedural packs that contain the gowns due to possible contamination.

More than 9 million gowns were recalled, including 7.7 million distributed to 2,807 facilities across the United States, CNN reported.

The gowns are worn during procedures such as arterial blood draws, IV insertions and in trauma cases, and they are also used in emergency rooms, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The company said it isn't aware of any patients being harmed by the gowns, CNN reported.

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Utah Bans So-Called Gay 'Conversion' Therapy

Utah has banned the discredited practice of conversion therapy for LGBTQ children.

It's the 19th state and one of the most conservative to outlaw the practice that seeks to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, the Associated Press reported.

The ban in Utah could give support to people challenging the practice in other right-leaning states, according to Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

"It's really given people a lot of hope," Minter told the AP.

The group has pushed for bans on conversion therapy nationwide. Virginia is considering a ban, and the issue may come up this year in Texas and Kentucky, Minter said.

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