Hundreds of cases of a new viral respiratory illness have been confirmed in China and elsewhere since an outbreak began last month in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Scientists have identified the illness as a new kind of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold. Others have evolved into more severe illnesses, such as SARS and MERS, although so far the new virus does not appear to be nearly as deadly or contagious.
WHAT’S NEW TODAY
— Chinese authorities are cutting off two more cities in Hubei province, announcing transportation in and out of Huanggang and Ezhou will be shut down after midnight Thursday. They cut off Wuhan, the province’s capital, in the morning.
— From Dubai to Vietnam, airports have stepped up screening of passengers from China to try to identify and isolate any infected people. The Philippines suspended a daily charter flight from Wuhan to a beach resort popular with Chinese tourists.
— The number of confirmed cases in China rose to more than 550.
— The World Health Organization’s representative in China said that trying to contain a city of Wuhan’s size is unprecedented and that it’s too early to say whether it will stem the spread of the virus.