21:30 GMT29 March 2020
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    At least 17 people have died so far in an outbreak of previously unknown pneumonia, later identified as a new type of coronavirus, that rocked the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December.

    China has confirmed a total of 571 cases of coronavirus, Chinese state TV reported on Thursday.

    "As of 24:00 on 22 January, our committee had received a total of 571 confirmed cases of pneumonia of new coronavirus infection in 25 provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities) in China, including 95 severe cases and 17 deaths (all from Hubei Province). A total of 393 suspected cases were reported in 13 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities)", the local health authorities said in a statement.

    On Wednesday, residents of the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the infection started, were put on a travel ban due to concerns over the virus turning into an epidemic. 

    Cases of the dangerous infection have already been registered in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the United States, and Macau. The Brazilian authorities also suspect another person has been affected by the virus.

    "Confirmed cases reported overseas: one case in Hong Kong, China, one case in Macau, one case in Taiwan, China; one case in the United States, one case in Japan, three cases in Thailand, and one case in South Korea", the health authorities say.

    Chinese authorities have confirmed that the Wuhan coronavirus can be transmitted from human to human through coughing and sneezing.

    Out of precaution, airports across the world have stepped up measures to monitor passengers for the disease. In Wuhan, apart from all outbound travel from Wuhan airports and train stations, buses, subways, ferries and long-distance buses have also been temporarily suspended.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) Emergency Committee is set to decide on Thursday whether to declare a public health emergency of international concern over the new virus outbreak. Earlier, the WHO denoted the newly discovered type of coronavirus as 2019-nCoV.

    "It is an evolving and complex situation", Dr Tedros, Director-General of WHO, said at the Wednesday meeting.

    The Wuhan infection belongs to the same family of coronaviruses that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which claimed the lives of nearly 800 people globally during the 2002/03 outbreak. 

    Those infected with the Wuhan coronavirus show symptoms of pneumonia and other acute respiratory diseases, media reports say.

    Topic:
    2020 Coronavirus Outbreak (445)
    Tags:
    precautions, Hubei, airports, emergency, residents, epidemic, pneumonia, infection, health, deaths, China
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