The death toll of a coronavirus outbreak sweeping China has hit 26, with at least 876 people infected.
The new figures were issued Friday noon local time according to state media.
The virus originated at a wet market in the city of Wuhan, and has spread to at least eight other countries: Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and the US.
The scientific name for the virus is 2019-nCoV, and it can pass from human to human. Authorities are rushing to study it in order to prevent the disease from spreading further as millions begin to travel for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration.
The disease is part of the larger coronavirus family, which typically infect the nose, throat, or sinuses. This one has pneumonia-like symptoms.
Here’s everything we know:
The first case of the virus was reported in Wuhan in December. The central Chinese city has a population of 11 million.
Ruobing Su/Business InsiderIts pneumonia-like symptoms include fever and difficulty breathing.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control, a person could be at risk if they have:
Fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as coughing or difficulty breathing, after traveling to Wuhan or having close contact with someone who was ill and is now under investigation for the virus in the past two weeks.
Fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness after having close contact in the past two weeks with someone who’s been confirmed to have the virus.
As of Friday, the virus has killed 26 people.
Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images
“The people who are likely to die first will have other illnesses,” Adrian Hyzler, the chief medical officer at Healix International, which offers risk-management solutions for global travelers, told Business Insider. “But as it spreads, it’ll pick up more people like flu does.”
876 people in China have been infected.
Associated PressChinese authorities launched an investigation in the first week of January, amid fears that the virus could be like SARS. That coronavirus also originated in China and killed 774 people from November 2002 to July 2003.
AHMAD YUSNI / AFP) (Photo by AHMAD YUSNI/AFP via Getty Images
Authorities later determined that this coronavirus is not SARS, though the two belong to the same family.
Many corona viruses are not very serious and only threaten people with weakened immune systems. But a few, like SARS, are deadly.
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“An initial first impression is that this is significantly milder than SARS,” Eric Toner, a senior scientist at Johns Hopkins University, told Business Insider.
“On the other hand, it may be more transmissible than SARS, at least in the community setting,” Toner said.
Scientists are still learning about the virus’ incubation period — the time between a patient getting infected and displaying symptoms.
People in the incubation period can be contagious without realizing they’re sick.
Health officials believe the coronavirus outbreak came from a seafood market in Wuhan.
Photo by Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images
They initially said the virus could only spread from animals to humans. But on January 20, Chinese officials confirmed that the virus can be transferred from person to person as well.
“Now we can say it is certain that it is a human-to-human transmission phenomenon,” Zhong Nanshan, the scientist the Chinese government appointed to lead the effort to battle the disease, said.
Early research suggests the virus might have jumped from bats to snakes, then to humans.
Since snakes often hunt bats in the wild — and they were sold at the seafood market in Wuhan — the researchers think the virus may have originated in bats before mutating and infecting humans.
On Thursday, local officials effectively quarantined the entire city of Wuhan by shutting down all transportation.
All of the city’s public transportation — including buses, metros, ferries, and train — were shut down as of 10 a.m. local time on Thursday. Trains and airplanes coming in and out of the city were also halted.
Wuhan’s 11 million residents were told not to leave the city, barring special circumstances.
A handful of nearby cities have also been placed on lockdown.
The city Huanggang, home to around 7.5 million people, announced on Thursday that it will place its urban core under lockdown, closing subway and train stations as well as theaters and internet cafes.
The city of Ezhou has suspended railway service. Two other cities, Chibi and Zhijiang, have imposed travel restrictions as well.
The virus has spread to at least eight other countries and many other parts of China, including Beijing, Guangdong province, Zhejiang province, Tianjin, and Shanghai.
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images
Cases are also suspected in more regions of China.
Outside of China, one case has been recorded in each of the US, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia. Four cases have been reported in Thailand and two in Vietnam.
Four people in Scotland are being tested for the virus.
This map shows where the virus has spread around the world.
“I think we’re going to see cases popping up in cities all over the world,” Hyzler said.He added that he worries a single person with the virus could infect 10, 20, or 30 people.
The true number infected people is probably higher than the total Chinese authorities have identified.
As of Thursday, academics from Imperial College London estimated that the true number of infected people might be between 4,000 and 9,700.
Chinese officials have warned that the virus is mutating, which could make it harder to control and treat.
Gao Fu, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Wednesday that the virus was adapting and changing — making it harder to fight.
Airports around the world are implementing screening protocols and diverting flights from Wuhan.
Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images
Five US airports — New York’s JFK airport, San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta, and Chicago’s O’Hare airport — have started screening passengers for the virus.
Airports in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and South Korea are also screening people.
Chinese state media reported that transport hubs in Wuhan were supplied with infrared thermometers to try to catch people who might have been infected. But those efforts started January 14, so they likely missed some sick people.
The outbreak comes as as hundreds of millions prepare to travel for the weeks-long Chinese New Year, which is one of the largest annual human migrations in the world.
The holiday starts this weekend, and experts worry the surge in travel could boost the virus’ spread.
“This couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Wuhan,” according to Hyzler, the health expert.
Beijing canceled its Spring Festival celebrations on Thursday.
China Photos / Stringer / Getty
“In order to control the epidemic, protect people’s lives and health, reduce the mass gathering, and ensure people to have a harmonious and peaceful Spring Festival, it is decided to cancel all the large-scale events, including temple fairs, in Beijing as of today,” the Beijing Culture and Tourism Bureau said in a statement.
“Our commission will step up our guard during the Spring Festival,” China’s National Health Commission said on Sunday.
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images
The commission also vowed to “pay close attention to the development and change of the epidemic, and direct the implementation of prevention and control measures.”
The commission said the virus is “still preventable and controllable.”
STR/AFP via Getty ImagesThe World Health Organization said on Thursday that it is “too early” to consider the outbreak a public-health emergency.
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images
“There is no evidence of human to human transmission outside China, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen,” director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference.
“WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday that keeping people alive is the “top priority” and the spread “should be resolutely contained.”
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