Coronavirus Now Spread to Over a Dozen Countries As WHO Declares Outbreak 'High Risk' on Global Level

The new form of coronavirus, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a "high" risk on a global level, has now spread to over a dozen countries.

Over 100 people have died since the outbreak started in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, late last year. According to a virus tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University, which pulls in data from a range of official health bodies, the death toll has hit 107, and 4,474 cases have been confirmed.

That marks a rise from the 80 deaths and 2,798 confirmed in a report published by the WHO on Monday, where it warned the virus was a "very high" risk to China, and "high" risk at a regional and global level. At the time, the body stated a further 5,794 cases were suspected.

Since December 2019, the bug has spread to Macau and Hong Kong, as well as Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, the U.S., Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, France, Vietnam, Cambodia, Canada and Germany, with reports of a suspected case on the Ivory Coast also documented by the Johns Hopkins University dashboard.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates where the virus has been detected as of January 27.

Coronavirus location January 27 Statista
Where the novel coronavirus has been detected around the world as of January 27. Statista

With Wuhan effectively in lockdown and travel restrictions in place in a number of Chinese cities, the WHO made an effort to ease fears on Monday. On Twitter, the body highlighted that of the 2,798 confirmed cases reported to it as of Monday, 98 percent were in China. Of the 37 cases identified outside of China, 36 had traveled to Wuhan or other cities in China.

The virus is thought to have initially passed from animals to humans after the first cases were reported in people who worked at a wholesale seafood market in Wuhan. The WHO said it is only aware of one case of human-to-human transmission occurring outside of China, in Vietnam.

"That's still one case too many. But we're encouraged that so far we have not seen more human-to-human transmission outside China. We're monitoring the outbreak constantly" the WHO said.

Important perspective from today's #coronavirus report:

Of the 2,798 confirmed cases reported to @WHO so far, 98% are in China.

Of the 37 cases outside China, 36 had travel history to Wuhan or other cities in China.


— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 27, 2020

The pacifying tone was mirrored by Dr. Pierre Talbot of Canada's INRS institute, an expert in coronaviruses, who told the Montreal Gazette he believes "the epidemic will die down by itself." He praised China for its "amazingly thorough" approach to tackling the infection.

On Thursday, the body decided not to declare an international public health emergency, and on Saturday stated the threat on a global level was "moderate." However, on Sunday the body revised its view, and said its initial stance was incorrect, upgrading the risk level to "very high" in China, and "high" at a global level.

Dubbed 2019-nCoV, the bug is a member of the large coronavirus family, which includes a range of conditions from the common cold to more severe infections like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

It can cause pneumonia-like symptoms including a fever, a dry cough, shortness of breath and breathing problems. As the virus is new and the situation constantly developing, health officials are not certain how it is spread. However, the WHO says it is likely similar to how MERS and SARS were passed on.

As such, the basic principles for preventing the spread of an acute respiratory infection should be followed, the body advised. These include avoiding close contact with people suffering from such conditions, washing hands often— particularly after coming into contact with sick people or their environment—and staying away from farm or wild animals.

Those who are sick should maintain a distance from others, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash their hands.

coronavirus, cases, deaths, countries, China
A passenger wears a face mask as he sits in a tram in Hong Kong on January 27, 2020, as a preventative measure following a coronavirus outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Anthony WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images

This article was updated to include an infographic.

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