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China quarantines entire city as coronavirus spreads fast; 17 dead, 540+ infected

Hubu Alley, Wuchang, Wuhan, Hubei, China (Ping Lin, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
January 22, 2020

The Chinese government has ordered the entire city of Wuhan to be quarantined to halt the spread of a deadly coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday.

Chinese authorities are trying to determine the source and spread path of the virus outbreak, according to the South China Morning Post. Thus far 17 people have reportedly died as a result of the virus and some 541 people were reportedly infected, as of 11 p.m. local time on Wednesday.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) introduced the quarantine measures on Wednesday for any suspected carriers of the virus. By Thursday, the quarantine orders expanded to stop paths of travel in and out of the city, Radio Free Asia reported.

Wuhan mayor Zhou Xianwang reportedly called on people who live in the city not leave and told those planning to enter the city not to travel there.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the first case of the coronavirus’ spread to the U.S.

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The U.S. man in question reportedly contracted the virus while traveling in China and before returning to Snohomish County, Wash. The man was also quarantined, though public health officials said he was exhibiting good health.

The U.S. has also announced screenings at major airports for those traveling from China, where the disease appears to have originated.

“Right now, it doesn’t look like this is a particularly lethal virus. It’s lethal in people who have co-morbidities, elderly people who have diabetes and chronic lung disease, and that’s very similar to what the influenza virus does,” David Heymann, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the South China Morning post.

Heymann said the key to stopping the virus’ spread include infection control and prevention measures. He warned that healthcare professionals could also contribute to the spread of the virus and inadvertently infect new patients if they are not careful.

Other instances of the virus’s spread have included cases in Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, and South Korea.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is expected to meet in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday to determine whether the latest coronavirus outbreak warrants consideration as a global health emergency.

The CDC has identified the coronavirus as having many symptoms similar to the common cold, such as runny nose, headaches, cough, sore throat, fever and a general feeling of being unwell. In a list of symptoms, the CDC said most people contract forms of the coronavirus throughout their lives and the illness passes. More serious cases can, however, lead to lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.