The death toll from the ongoing coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak that originated in Wuhan (Hubei province) has risen to at least 106 people as of Tuesday, January 28. Authorities also confirmed the first fatalities in Beijing and Henan province earlier on Monday, January 27. According to health officials, at least 4600 cases have been confirmed worldwide and containment efforts are ongoing to prevent further spread of the virus. According to media reports on Tuesday, multiple countries including the US, Japan, France, and Germany are preparing to evacuate citizens from Wuhan who are not affected by the virus. The US Consulate in Wuhan has reportedly planned to evacuate diplomatic personnel and private citizens from Wuhan on a flight to San Francisco on Tuesday. An estimated 200 to 650 Japanese citizens may also be repatriated on Tuesday evening (local time).
Transportation disruptions are ongoing throughout China in an effort to contain the outbreak. Beijing Public Transport Group announced on Tuesday that it will extend the suspension of bus services to include the majority of services into Hebei province. All bus service in Tangshan City (Hebei province) has also been shut down until further notice after a case was confirmed in the city. Wuhan remains under strict transportation restrictions to flights, trains, and other public transport services.
As of January 28, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has maintained its "Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel" notice for China. The CDC warns that the virus poses an increased risk for severe illness to older adults and people with underlying health conditions.
Further spread of the illness is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan. Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency panel in Geneva (Switzerland) on January 23 to discuss the virus, ultimately deciding that it was too early to classify the outbreak as a "public health emergency of international concern." As of January 28, cases of the virus have been confirmed in Australia, Canada, Cambodia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and the US. Virus screening measures are being implemented at airports worldwide.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals who plan to travel to or have recently returned from China, particularly Hubei province, are advised to monitor the situation and anticipate additional security checks at the airport. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
- Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
- Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
- Frequently wash hands and wear a face mask
- Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
- Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
- Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spread of the disease