How to protect yourself against the China Coronavirus

South Korea confirms second coronavirus case

For months, even after the illness had spread around the world, China parked patients in hotels and drove them around in ambulances to hide the true number of cases and avoid the World Health Organization experts.

"All our Global Positioning System and hospitals across the country have had a letter from the chief medical officer and the medical director at NHS England and us at Public Health England, so that if somebody does present and they are anxious, if they do meet our criteria, that they will be put somewhere where they won't infect other people while they're assessed and while we can get them tested". The nearby city of Huanggang, home to 7 million people, has also gone into lockdown today to try to control the disease's spread.

Trains and planes out of Wuhan were indefinitely suspended and tollways on roads out the city were closed, leading to fear and panic for those who were trapped.

"We are feeling as though it is the end of the world", declared one Wuhan resident on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform, voicing concerns about shortages of food and disinfectant. The two cities have a combined population of around two million people. All public gatherings were cancelled in the city of 11 million residents.

Since Thursday morning, police and paramilitary troops have been turning travelers away from Wuhan's long-distance train stations. The first cases appeared last month in Wuhan, an industrial and transportation hub in central China.

The virus has caused alarm in China and overseas because of its genetic similarities to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which killed almost 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

The virus is from the same family of viruses as Sars, which was passed to humans from bats by the masked pam civets, and Mers, which was carried from bats to humans by camels.

The first case of the new virus was detected on December 31 past year, and cases of the virus have since been confirmed in Vietnam, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the US.

The Chinese authorities initially described the virus as a new type of pneumonia before realising what was happening, and it is spread in exactly the same way as flu and colds are - by droplet transmission, where infected micro-droplets of fluid are breathed in by people near an infected individual who coughs or sneezes beside them.

The World Health Organization (WHO) was to hold a meeting Thursday to decide whether to declare a global health emergency - a rare instrument used only for the worst outbreaks.

Wuhan's special anti-virus command centre said the quarantine measures were meant to "effectively cut off the virus spread, resolutely curb the outbreak and guarantee the people's health and safety", according to state media.

The city's tourism and culture department cancelled all group tours until February 8, according to state media, as well as all large public events for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Tom Solomon, a professor at the University of Liverpool, warned that imposing a lockdown could be "counter-productive".

As per the BBC, authorities have stated that the virus originated in a seafood market in Wuhan that "conducted illegal transactions of wild animals".

Various sources have said the virus could have originated from the snakes or bats sold illegally at the market, though this has yet to be confirmed and differing reports are still being disputed.

Seventeen people have died in the outbreak, all of them in and around Wuhan.

Identifying the origin of the virus would not only enable officials to prevent its circulation, but could also allow scientists to understand if the virus has further evolved after infecting people. For example, information on the outbreak is being prominently reported on the evening news.



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