A Chinese health worker checks the temperature of a woman entering a subway station during the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival on January 25, 2020 in Beijing, China.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images
More than 2,700 people in China are now said to have been infected by the fast-spreading coronavirus while more countries have reported their first confirmed cases.
Chinese officials said, as of the end of Sunday, there are 2,744 confirmed cases, including 461 people in critical condition, as the death toll rose to 80.
The deadly pneumonia-like virus comes from a large family of viruses known as coronaviruses, according to the World Health Organization. They are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.
The new strain was first identified last month in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province. It has since spread beyond Wuhan to other major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Macao, and Hong Kong.
In a press briefing, the National Health Commission said the incubation period for the virus is about 10 days and that it is contagious even during this stage, putting additional pressure on prevention control. That is said to be a major difference compared to SARS, where victims became contagious after they showed symptoms.
More potential cases in Wuhan
Wuhan’s mayor said on Sunday that there could be about 1,000 more confirmed cases of the virus in the city. About 5 million people left Wuhan before travel was restricted, and nine million people are currently living there. Wuhan and more than a dozen other cities are currently in lockdown to restrict the virus’ spread.
The World Health Organization’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is traveling to Beijing to meet with government and health officials. According to the organization, more data needs to be collected before the virus, which can spread through human-to-human contact, is declared a global health emergency.
Resident wear masks to buy vegetables in the market on January 23th, 2020 in Wuhan, China.
China stepped up efforts to increase medical supplies to Wuhan that includes transferring 14,000 protective suits and 110,000 pairs of gloves from the central medical reserves, according to the State Council. Emergency supplies of 3 million masks, 100,000 protective suits and 2,180 pairs of goggles were also made avaliable.
More than 1,600 medical staff are said to be sent to the Hubei province to assist in containing the virus. The central government previously said it allocated 1 billion yuan ($145 million) to support the province — Wuhan is building a 1,000-bed hospital to treat the infected and plans to have the facility operational by the end of the week.
Authorities also temporarily banned the trade of wild animals in China on Sunday, responding to the outbreak as some consider the virus to have originated in a type of wild animal sold and consumed as food in Wuhan, the Associated Press reported.
China has also extended the Lunar New Year holiday to Feb. 2 in a bid to reduce people from gathering in public spaces, which could increase the risk of infection. Beijing said it will delay school reopenings in the city.
Singapore’s health ministry said the number of confirmed cases in the city-state rose to four while South Korea reported its third patient infected with the virus. Thailand also reported three new cases, according to the Associated Press.
French authorities on Friday confirmed the first instances of the virus in Europe, with three cases in the country — two patients in Paris and one in Bordeaux, according to local media.
Nepal is said to have confirmed its first case — a Nepali student studying in China, according to Xinhua.
Other countries that have reported cases include Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
U.S., France, and Japan were said to be arranging to evacuate their consulate staff from China, the Associated Press reported.
On Saturday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam declared a virus emergency in the city of 7.3 million, extending school cancellations until Feb. 17.
Watch: How Wuhan is handling the coronavirus outbreak
— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.