The World Health Organization is reconvening Thursday to decide whether the virus should be classified as a global health emergency, as an outbreak of a new coronavirus that began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan has killed 17 and infected nearly 600 people globally.
Global health authorities fear the transmission rate will accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.
Thailand reported four cases, and South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the United States one each. Patients in these cases were either residents of Wuhan or recent visitors to the city.
The coronavirus, which causes respiratory symptoms similar to a cold or flu, has been linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, the largest city in central China with a population of about 11 million. That market has since been shut down.
Health officials fear the transmission rate will accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during week-long holidays for Lunar New Year, which begins on Saturday.
The previously unknown virus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in China’s central city of Wuhan.