The coronavirus outbreak that began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan has killed 56 people in China and infected more than 2,000 globally, most of them in China.
The virus has caused alarm because it is still too early to know how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. And because it is new, humans have not been able to build any immunity to it.
Here is what we know so far:
* As of midnight in Beijing on Jan. 25, the death toll in China had risen to 56, authorities reported. Some 1,975 people in China had been infected.
* The virus’ transmission ability is getting stronger and infections could continue to rise, China’s National Health Commission said.
* China has temporarily banned wildlife trade in markets, supermarkets, restaurants, and e-commerce platforms.
* The previously unknown coronavirus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan.
* Thailand has reported eight infection cases; Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and the United States each have reported four; France and Japan three each; Vietnam and South Korea two apiece, and one each in Canada and Nepal.
* No reported fatalities outside China.
* The World Health Organization (WHO) said that while the outbreak was an emergency for China, it was not yet a global health emergency. The WHO director-general is on his way to Beijing to confer with Chinese officials and health experts.
* Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
* China says the virus is mutating and can be transmitted through human contact.
* Two separate scientific analyses of the epidemic say each person infected is passing the disease on to between two and three other people.
* Those most affected are older people and those with underlying health conditions.
* Three research teams have begun work on developing potential vaccines, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations said. Scientists hope to be testing the first possible vaccines in three months’ time.
* China is testing the HIV drug Aluvia as a treatment.
* China will extend the week-long Lunar New Year holiday by three days to Feb. 2 and schools will return from their break later than usual, state broadcaster CCTV said.
* Taiwan further tightens restrictions on visitors from China, suspending entry for many apart from business travellers and a few other exceptions.
* Hong Kong’s popular amusement parks Disneyland and Ocean Park are closed from Jan. 26, state media CCTV reported.
* There are severe travel restrictions in Wuhan, a city of 11 million, with urban transport shut and outgoing flights suspended.
* Hong Kong will extend school holiday closures until Feb. 17. The city cancelled all official Lunar New Year celebrations and official visits to mainland China, and barred residents of China’s Hubei province from entering the city.
* Airports around the world have stepped up screening.
* Some experts believe the virus is not as dangerous as the 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that killed nearly 800 people, or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has killed more than 700 people since 2012. – Reuters