Coronavirus spreading more easily than previously thought, experts say

Travelers in face masks walk past a display board showing a canceled flight from Wuhan at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing Thursday Jan. 23 2020. China closed off a city of more than 11 million people Thursday halting transportation

Travelers in face masks walk past a display board showing a canceled flight from Wuhan at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing Thursday Jan. 23 2020. China closed off a city of more than 11 million people Thursday halting transportation

The unknown type of viral pneumonia was first reported in Wuhan in early January and has since been confirmed by China and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be a new strain of the coronavirus, now being labeled as 2019-nCoV or Novel Coronavirus. Today, its chair, Didier Houssin, said opinions remained split.

"Regardless of the decision not to declare this a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, intensified international collaboration and more resources will be crucial to stopping this outbreak in its tracks", he said.

China put seven cities in Hubei Province on lockdown yesterday as authorities struggle to deal with the new coronavirus outbreak that has killed 18 people and infected over 600. This is the first time it has been found in humans.

"We are committed to ending the outbreak as soon as possible", Adhanom said, adding that he could reconvene the emergency committee within days to reconsider declaring PHEIC, if the outbreak continues to worsen.

The measures will be taken in a bid to "effectively cut off the virus spread, resolutely curb the outbreak and guarantee people's health and safety", said the headquarters' notice.

As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, a total of 444 cases of novel coronavirus-related pneumonia and 17 deaths had been reported in Hubei Province, according to local authorities.

Other cases have been reported in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

"It may yet become one", said the WHO's boss.

"It likely originated in some non-human animal and jumped to a human", said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital. All had respiratory symptoms and had recently been in Wuhan, it said.

Gene detectives: It didn't take long for researchers to grab the genetic sequence of the virus, then blast it against big gene databases to see what other germs it is most similar to.

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Zhong became famous in 2003 when China was accused of covering up a major outbreak of SARS. "This is clearly an extraordinary and novel event that poses risks to [other countries] through worldwide spread and which requires a coordinated global response", he told ScienceInsider.

Before declaring a PHEIC, an emergency committee meets and then advises the World Health Organization director-general on the state of the situation.

The Centers for Disease Control said people are at risk for the virus if they've been to the Wuhan province of China or come in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case. The authorities in Wuhan, therefore, have demanded that all residents in Wuhan wear masks in public places. He said he hoped the transportation restrictions were effective and "short in duration".

The WHO recommended that everyone wash their hands with soap, cough into their elbows and ensure all meat is properly cooked before consumption.

Surveillance at airports has intensifies around the country, with airports in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago all screening travelers from Wuhan.

A traveler who arrived at Los Angeles International Airport from Mexico City on Wednesday night was transported to a hospital for medical evaluation after he showed signs of being sick. The virus is also detected in South Korea in a Chinese person who has arrived by plane from Wuhan.

There is evidence of human-to-human transmission, with the virus spreading from patients to family members and healthcare workers.

During the new virus outbreak, the government has warned officials that they may face public shame if they are not truthful about the number of people infected.

"We are now seeing second and third generation spread", said Heymann, who is the chairman of a World Health Organization committee collecting data on the virus, according to the report.

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