Beijing, Jan 23, 2020: The death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak in China nearly doubled to 17 with the confirmed infection cases sharply rising to 444 on Wednesday, even as the cases of the deadly pneumonia were reported from the US, Hong Kong, Macao and Mexico.
Officials have warned that the disease could spread further in the ongoing holiday season during which millions travel at home and abroad amid official advisories to people of Wuhan, the epicentre of illness, not to leave the city.
Seventeen people have died due to the virus, state-run China Daily reported on Wednesday. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory syndromes, but the virus that has killed people in China is a novel strain and not seen before.
Common symptoms of the novel coronavirus strain include respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, according to the WHO.
The Chinese health authorities announced that 444 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) had been reported in 13 provincial-level regions in the country by the end of Tuesday. Considering its potential to spread to different countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is holding a rare emergency meeting Geneva on Wednesday to consider declaring Wuhan virus as an international public health emergency, as it did with swine flu and Ebola.
Such a declaration, if made, will be seen as an urgent call for a coordinated international response in view of fears that millions of Chinese are travelling at home and abroad for the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival holidays starting from January 24.