An emergency committee convened by the World Health Organization decided not to declare a global health emergency. It planned to meet again within 10 days, acknowledging the ‘urgency’ of the situation.
Agency officials explained that although the disease has reached beyond China, the number of cases in other countries is still relatively small, and the disease does not seen to be spreading within the countries that have been affected. W. H. O has called on the Chinese government to share more information on how it is handling the crisis. The first confirm death outside of the epicenter was announced after a victim died on Wednesday in the Hebei province – more than 600 miles north of the city where the outbreak first began. Wuhan is a major port city of 11 million in the province of Hubei, where all of 17 previously reported deaths have taken place. The authorities have expanded travel restrictions to several Chinese cities near Wuhan hours after announcing that the death toll and number of cases had risen sharply. Currently, at least 18 victims have been confirmed dead and more than 600 infected. The Chinese authorities closed off Wuhan by canceling flights and trains leaving the city, and suspending buses, subways and ferries within it. Late on Thursday, the local authorities also announced that they would suspend for hire-vehicles and limit taxis, beginning Friday noon. Roughly 30,000 people fly out of Wuhan on an average day, according to air traffic data. Many more leave using ground transportation like trains and cars. The new virus, which first emerged at the end of December, has sickened people in Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States. It has raised the specter of a repeat of the SARS epidemic, which broke out in China in 2002 and 2003 and spread rapidly while officials obscured the seriousness of the crisis. That virus eventually killed more than 800 people worldwide.
Coronaviruses are named for the spikes that protrude from their membranes, which resemble the sun’s corona. They can infect both animals and people, and cause illnesses of the respiratory tract, ranging from the common cold to severe conditions like S.A.R.S.
Symptoms of infection include a high fever, difficulty breathing and lung lesions. Milder cases may resemble the flu or a bad cold, making detection difficult. The incubation period – the time from exposure to the onset of symptoms – is believed to be about two weeks.