Six die as Wuhan coronavirus spreads globally

coronavirusPhoto credit: SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

The U.S. has its first reported infection, while the novel Wuhan coronavirus is transmissible between humans, Chinese health authorities announced on Monday. The working name of the bug is 2019-nCoV.

Quick facts you need to know about the virus and how it will affect travel

The death toll is now six. “All of the deceased had underlying health conditions and were between 48 and 89 years old,” according to Sixth Tone. Per government stats, there are now more than 300 people infected in China.

The American state of Washington, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the Philippines have all confirmed cases of infected people (porous paywall). All infected people reported outside of China seem to have traveled from Wuhan.

In China, at least two cases of human-to-human transmission have been confirmed by China’s National Health Commission: Two people in Guangdong Province “became sick after their family members recently returned” from Wuhan.

Airports in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Thailand, Nigeria, and the U.S.A. have implemented screening for passengers arriving from Wuhan or China.

What happens next?

The World Health Organization (WHO) will hold an emergency committee meeting on Wednesday to determine whether to declare an international public health emergency.

Face masks and disinfectants are selling out in Chinese cities, and in Hong Kong and Taiwan. There are serious concerns of a spike during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday, which begins on Saturday, when 3 billion trips are expected to be made over the course of the week.

Top leader Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 instructed “resolute efforts” — as paraphrased by Xinhua — to control the contagion, but serious concerns about Chinese government transparency remain.

“Shares of certain biotech stocks are soaring,” reports Motley Fool. “Novavax is up 73 percent today from its closing price Friday.”

Further reading: China confirms human-to-human transmission of new coronavirus while WHO convenes emergency meeting on SupChina.

Practical information: explainers from the New York Times (porous paywall), USA Today, and WHO.

—Anthony Tao and Jeremy Goldkorn