The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raised their travel warning for China to a Level 3 on Monday amidst the deadly coronavirus outbreak in the country. This is the CDC’s highest alert level, urging travelers to avoid all nonessential travel.
According to the CDC, many cities in China — including Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, and other cities in Hubei province — have limited access to adequate healthcare due to overwhelming demand. These cities have also been placed under indefinite emergency travel restrictions.
All public transport in and out of Wuhan — which has a population of 11 million — has been halted as of 10 a.m. local time on January 23. This includes buses, trains, subways and the airport.
In an attempt to curb the rapid spread of coronavirus, which health officials determined can move from human to human through the air or by touch, many popular attractions in and around China have also been closed or are preparing to close to the public, including Shanghai Disneyland, Beijing’s Forbidden City and parts of the Great Wall of China.
Many restaurants, shopping areas and other typically crowded public spaces have also been closed, leading to a concern for both the Chinese and global economy.
On Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a press conference that the region’s government would stop issuing permits for individual travelers from the Chinese mainland, according to CNN.
The outlet also reports that 106 people have died from the virus, all within China’s mainland — up from 80 on Monday — while the total known cases of the virus has reached more than 4,500 in China alone. Officials in Hong Kong declared a state of emergency as a result of the virus, with almost 60 million people in Chinese cities on lockdown.
CNN points out that the number of confirmed cases (70 of which are international) is growing exponentially; Tuesday’s reported number was a 65 percent increase since Monday’s reports of 2,800 confirmed cases. As of Tuesday, coronavirus cases have been reported in France, Germany, Japan and Australia, among others, including five instances in the U.S.
In a Tuesday morning report from Today, Beijing correspondent Janis Mackey Frayer said, “In a matter of hours, more than 200 Americans will be airlifted out of Wuhan. This is the epicenter of the virus, which has been locked down for nearly a week. People getting on that flight will be tested for symptoms, and when they land in the U.S., they’ll be quarantined for 14 days. But there are still hundreds of Americas stuck in Wuhan, and for them, there’s no way out.”
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Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is a blanket term for several respiratory illnesses, ranging from the common cold to more severe viruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Symptoms typically include fever, cough, trouble breathing, headache and sore throat — similar to the flu. For people who have severe cases, it can turn into pneumonia, SARS, kidney failure and death, according to the World Health Organization.
The CDC confirmed three new cases of coronavirus in the U.S. on Sunday, bringing the total to five. The CDC said in a release the patients “recently returned to the U.S. from Wuhan, China, where an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus has been ongoing since December 2019.”
The three new cases were from patients in Maricopa County, Arizona; Los Angeles County, California; and Orange County, California (a man in his 50s), CNN reported. The previously confirmed cases were of a man in his 30s in Everett, Washington, and a woman in her 60s in Chicago. NBC News revealed that all five patients were being held at hospitals in isolation.