China: Wuhan officials report 17 additional coronavirus cases


Following warnings by the World Health Organization of a wider outbreak, airport authorities in the United States as well as most Asian nations, including Japan, Thailand, south Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, are screening passengers from Wuhan.

Necessary measures will be taken duly in case of a wider outbreak, the Health Ministry assured.

Authorities in Wuhan City, China have confirmed 45 cases of the new 2019 coronavirus, which belongs to the same family as fatal acute severe respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), but up to now it seems to be less deadly. Memories remain fresh in Asia of a 2002/03 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which emerged in China and killed almost 800 people worldwide.

The new cases suggest that the illness, which has killed two people and sickened at least 62 in China, is continuing to spread.

Besides China, Japan and Thailand also reported three cases of the virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Friday it would begin the screening immediately at three U.S. airports that receive most of the travelers from Wuhan: San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) airports.

The outbreak in Wuhan, China, began in late December, with many cases linked to a large seafood market. This family includes the viruses that cause SARS and MERS, as well as those that cause milder illnesses, like the common cold.

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Worldwide airports in the United States and a number of countries in Asia, including Hong Kong, Thailand, and Malaysia, have stepped up screening procedures of travelers coming from China.

"Much remains to be understood about the new coronavirus", it said.

Chinese health officials closed the market for cleaning and disinfection on January 1.

The advisory asks travellers to maintain good personal hygiene, wash hands frequently, follow respiratory etiquette and avoid contact with people who seem unwell. "Self-sustaining human-to-human transmission should not be ruled out", it says.

Patients showed symptoms such as fever and cough before January 13 and have been moved to Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, except for the ones whose conditions are serious.

Chinese authorities have set up additional checks due to heightened fears the outbreak spreads as the country prepared to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year later this month.