Chinese health authorities have warned people not to travel to the city of Wuhan over concerns a new viral illness that has infected hundreds and killed at least nine could mutate and spread further.
Some 440 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in 13 jurisdictions, said Li Bin, deputy director of the National Health Commission. The virus has also spread to Thailand, where four cases have been confirmed, as well as Japan, South Korea and the United States, which have all reported one case each.
Officials are working on the assumption the outbreak resulted from human exposure to wild animals being sold illegally at a food market in Wuhan and the virus is mutating, Gao Fu, an academic of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control, told a news conference.
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China has now confirmed 473 cases of coronavirus, according to state media.
Heathrow Airport is going to introduce separate areas for passengers travelling from regions affected by the coronavirus outbreak in China, transport minister Grant Shapps has said.
“That is something which we are keeping a very close eye on,” Mr Shapps told Sky News.
“There’s been some announcements this morning about flights that come direct from the infected region to Heathrow with some additional measures there. This is to ensure that when flights come in directly to Heathrow there is a separate area for people to arrive in.”
Thailand has quarantined a fourth patient with the new cornavirus, authorities have said.
At least one Thai national is among those who have been diagnosed with the virus. The 73-year-old woman had travelled to Wuhan during the New Year holiday and developed a fever after returning.
Here is everything travellers need to know about coronavirus, from Simon Calder, our travel correspondent.
The World Health Organization has said: “Based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend any restriction of travel or trade.”
Travellers from China to three airports in the US – Los Angeles, New York JFK and San Francisco – are having their temperatures taken and filling out a “symptom questionnaire” that asks if they are suffering with a fever, a cough or breathing difficulties. But such procedures are of questionable value since they cover only a tiny proportion of travellers.
Australia has said that it will screen arrivals from Wuhan. Airports in the UAE, where many passengers transfer, say they are on standby to implement precautions.
Hong Kong has confirmed its first case of coronavirus following an outbreak in mainland China, local broadcasters RTHK, Cable TV and TVB said, citing unnamed sources.
Cases have also been reported in South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Macau and the US.
Donald Trump has said the US has a plan in place to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
“We do have a plan and we think it is going to be handled very well. We’ve already handled it very well. The CDC [Center for Disease Control] is terrific. Very professional…” the US president said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
Chinese health authorities have warned people not to travel into and out of the city of Wuhan, where the virus originated.
There were 440 confirmed cases and nine people have died, according to Li Bin, deputy director of the National Health Commission.
“There has already been human-to-human transmission and infection of medical workers,” Mr Li said at a news conference with health experts.
“Evidence has shown that the disease has been transmitted through the respiratory tract and there is the possibility of viral mutation.”
A new virus that has infected hundreds of people and killed nine is adapting and mutating, a Chinese health official has warned.
“We are still in the process of learning more about this disease.” Gao Fu, an academic of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control said at the news conference.
The coronavirus has spread to Beijing and Shanghai, as well as overseas to the United States, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.