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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Coronavirus Cases Rise To Nearly 650 Worldwide As New Countries Confirm Infections


The total number of coronavirus cases in China rose to 634 Thursday as local authorities quarantined at least two major cities and canceled Lunar New Year’s events in Beijing, China state television reported.

The virus — which was first diagnosed less than a month ago — has already killed at least 17 people in China and infected roughly 650 people around the world, including firsts in Singapore and Saudi Arabia, according to multiple reports from international and local media. Medical teams have been dispatched to impacted cities and hospitals are asking for donations of essential items including face masks, eye protectors, protective uniforms and sanitizer.

Local authorities in China have quarantined Wuhan and Huanggang, which have a combined population of 17 million, and planned a similar lockdown for Ezhou, a city of 1 million, on Friday. Travel bans were in effect for at least seven cities, including Wuhan where the virus was first flagged to world health officials on Dec. 31.

China is offering to refund domestic flights and train tickets nationwide. An estimated 246,000 travelers arrived in Wuhan either via plane or train on Thursday before all transportation in and out of the city was shut down. The number of people leaving the city is currently unknown.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday adjusted its travel alert to Watch Level 2, “Practice Enhanced Precautions.” U.S. health officials began screening passengers flying from China at major international airports this weekend, and confirmed the country’s first case on Tuesday. A Washington state man is quarantined with the virus in a hospital outside of Seattle after flying back from Wuhan, U.S. health authorities said.

An NBC affiliate in Los Angeles reported Thursday morning that someone was quarantined at the airport there after showing symptoms of the virus. The passenger was on an American Airlines flight from Mexico City and taken to the hospital, according to KNBC Los Angeles. There was no confirmation that the passenger was infected, and the Los Angeles International Airport didn’t immediately respond for comment.


British TV network BBC News reported Thursday that four people in Scotland are being tested for the virus.

The World Health Organization is reconvening an emergency meeting in Geneva on Thursday, after postponing its decision on whether to designate the new virus as a global health emergency. Health officials hesitated Wednesday to designate the virus as a global emergency, trying to contain the fast-spreading illness without unnecessarily spooking global trade. WHO physicians said they needed more data before declaring a global emergency, but the virus is now spreading through close human contact and in health-care settings, they said

The previously unknown, flu-like coronavirus strain is believed to have emerged from an animal market in central Wuhan city. A group of scientists said late Wednesday that they may have a breakthrough in discovering the original source of the virus, declaring that snakes, particularly the Chinese krait and the Chinese cobra, may be responsible for the outbreak. The scientist used samples of the virus from patients and determined the genetic code.

Some major U.S. companies, including General Motors and Ford, announced that they would also temporarily restrict employee travel. MGM Resorts said it has canceled its New Year’s celebration this weekend as it works with authorities to protect guests and employees.

Here are where cases have been reported:

Mainland China: 634
Hong Kong: 2
Macau: 1
Taiwan: 1
Singapore: 1
South Korea: 1
Japan: 1
Thailand: 4
United States: 1
Vietnam: 2
Saudi Arabia: 1

[ By CNBC ]

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