A new coronavirus outbreak coming from Wuhan, the city in China, that has already killed six people and infected close to 300 others, can spread between humans.
According to media reports, officials in China confirmed the new virus can be passed between humans, noting that 15 medical staff treating those infected caught the virus.
Do we have another pandemic on our hands?
That confirmation is leading to worries that an international pandemic is about to breakout brought by travelers from China. The outbreak of the mystery new coronavirus is happening just ahead of China's Lunar New Year in which millions of Chinese people travel around the world. CNBC reported that airports around the world are stepping up the screening of travelers coming from China as a result.
According to the report, as of 20 January, there were 291 cases of the virus in China, with 270 located in a province of Wuhan, which is a city that's home to 11 million people.
The virus isn't contained in Wuhan but is spreading to other cities in China as well as in Thailand, South Korea, and Japan. The World Health Organization said the person who contracted the virus in Thailand was a traveler from Wuhan. The individual is recovering from the illness.
"The possibility of cases being identified in other countries was not unexpected and reinforces why WHO calls for on-going active monitoring and preparedness in other countries," it wrote on its website.
WHO to convene a meeting over the virus
The WHO said that while it isn't recommending any restriction of travel and trade, countries are encouraged to strengthen preparedness for health emergencies in line with regulations put on the books in 2005. The WHO is holding an "Emergy Committee" on 22 January to determine if the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency it said on Twitter:
The Emergency Committee on the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) will ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and what recommendations should be made to manage it pic.twitter.com/dFpOkM0CSN— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 20, 2020
What is the coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a big family of viruses that can cause people to suffer from something as small as the common cold to something as big as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
People suffering from the virus typically have a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. According to the WHO pneumonia is common but not always present with the virus.