The new coronavirus has now killed at least 106 people and infected more than 4,500 in China, the country’s health agency said, while American officials have urged residents to avoid all nonessential travel to the region.
China’s National Health Commission said Monday that there were 1,771 new cases of the novel coronavirus, which was first linked to the city of Wuhan, and said the first patient had died in Beijing. The 50-year-old man had traveled to Wuhan earlier this month and developed a fever after going home, The New York Times reported.
On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised its travel advisory for Americans planning trips anywhere in China, asking people to reconsider all nonessential travel to the country. The agency has had a Level 4 advisory in place for Hubei Province — where the center of the outbreak, Wuhan, is located — since last week due to the spread of the virus.
The Associated Press reported that the U.S. consulate in Wuhan was preparing to fly diplomats and some other U.S. citizens out of the city, as have other governments, including Japan, France and Mongolia.
The World Health Organization has not yet declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency, which would mandate a coordinated international response. Previous designations have been declared for the Zika virus and polio. The agency said Monday it was working with countries affected by the virus to determine how best to stop its spread while researchers worked to identify how best to treat it.
Cases of the virus have continued to spread around the globe. Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Macau, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, France, Canada, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Germany and the United States have all seen infected patients.
The CDC reported five infections in the U.S. on Monday and said it was investigating at least 110 people for evidence of the coronavirus.
The agency continued to say on Sunday that the health risk to Americans was still considered low at this time but stressed that the agency was preparing for any domestic outbreaks. Chinese officials first said last week that the new virus could be spread by human-to-human contact, but the AP noted the coronavirus doesn’t appear to spread as easily among people as does SARS (also a coronavirus) or the flu.
“Person-to-person spread in the United States has not yet been detected, but it’s likely to occur to some extent,” the CDC said. “It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so.”
Within China, more than 50 million people in 17 cities are currently under extreme containment measures, prompting widespread frustration and fear. The effort came during the Lunar New Year holiday, which traditionally sees hundreds of millions of people travel both domestically and abroad.