China reports additional fatalities as coronavirus now suspected in Europe

Katie Ramirez
February 6, 2020

The ability of the new coronavirus to spread is strengthening and infections could continue to rise, China's National Health Commission said on Sunday, with more than 2,000 people in China infected and 56 killed by the disease.

France confirmed three cases Friday, the first in Europe, and the USA identified its second, a woman in Chicago who had returned from China.

Two of the men diagnosed in Sydney travelled to Wuhan and one person is believed to have had direct contact with a confirmed case while in China.

"While this situation poses a very serious public health threat, CDC believes that the immediate risk to the USA public is low at this time, but the situation continues to evolve rapidly", Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Friday during a call with reporters. "We are closely watching the situation in Canada and globally, and are meeting regularly with our counterparts across the country to make sure we are prepared if cases arise in B.C".

Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province. The makeshift hospital is dedicated to merging medical resources to provide isolation and efficient treatment for infected pneumonia patients.

Most of the deaths have been among patients aged 50 or over, officials said.

Millions of people traveling during the holiday have fueled the spread of the outbreak nationwide and overseas after it began in the city of Wuhan in central China.

Enhanced screening is in place at Vancouver International Airport as well as airports in Toronto and Montreal, with all international travellers being asked if they have visited Wuhan.

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President Xi Jinping: the country is facing a "grave situation" the virus is "accelerating its spread".

China's biggest holiday, Lunar New Year, unfolded Saturday in the shadow of the virus.

Australia on Saturday announced its first case of coronavirus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said in a statement on January 24th, "The NIH is in the process of taking the first steps towards the development of a vaccine, and it would take a few months until the first phase of the clinical trials get underway and more than a year until a vaccine might be available".

In the heart of the outbreak where 11 million residents are already on lockdown, Wuhan banned most vehicle use, including private cars, in downtown areas starting Sunday, state media reported.

Australia's chief medical officer has warned there will likely be more cases of the deadly coronavirus confirmed in the country, as the federal government explores plans to evacuate Australian citizens from the pandemic's epicentre in central China. The only confirmed cases are in Washington and IL. Both patients - in Washington, a man in his 30s, and in Chicago, a woman in her 60s - had also traveled to China.

A health official in Sydney was downplaying the threat.

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