China has reported 17 new cases of its mysterious viral pneumonia. Among these, three are in severe condition.
The outbreak started in the Chinese city of Wuhan in early January, with initial cases linked to market workers selling birds, live fish, and other animals. The virus was later on found out to be from the same coronavirus family as that of severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS, a viral respiratory illness that in 2003 infected over 8,000 people and killed 774 people in Asia, the U.S., South America, Asia, and Europe.
The number of cases has risen to 62 people in Wuhan, though scientists from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London speculate that the actual number of cases may be closer to 1,700. Two people have died from the virus, the first death that of a 61-year-old man.
Cases of the virus have also been reported in Thailand and Japan, heightening fears that it has spread abroad. The patient in Thailand was a 61-year-old Chinese woman who was traveling from Wuhan. The patient in Japan, a Chinese man, was said to have not visited Wuhan or seafood markets in China. Japan's Health Ministry shared, "it is possible that the patient had close contact with an unknown patient with lung inflammation while in China.”
Wuhan's deputy mayor confirmed that infrared thermometers had been installed at airports and in train stations in the city. Passengers are being registered, given masks, and are undergoing temperature tests.
Millions of Chinese are expected to travel around China to visit their families for the upcoming Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year, which falls on January 25.