"We have not banned tourism groups from Wuhan but we are not encouraging them", Ao Ieong said. "Evidence has shown that the disease has been transmitted through the respiratory tract and there is the possibility of viral mutation". Some experts have drawn parallels between the new coronavirus and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, another coronavirus that does not spread very easily among humans and is thought to be carried by camels. The WHO has, however, recommended simple precautions that can help in the prevention of the infection.
According to Dr Ergonul, who's also the Education and Communications Officer of The European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID), about 10,000 people were reported to be infected with the SARS virus in 2003, and about 10 percent of them died.
It may be possible to reduce a person's risk of infection by avoiding people who are sick with the illness.
A first case of the virus emerged in nearby Hong Kong on Wednesday, media reported.
Deputy director of PHE Dr Nick Phin said: "Based on the available evidence, the current risk to the United Kingdom is very low".
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"In my opinion, those three criteria have been met", he said.
On Friday, the CDC began implementing public health entry screening at three worldwide airports: San Francisco, John F. Kennedy in NY and LAX in Los Angeles.
In Wuhan, pharmacies limited sales of face masks to one package per customer as people lined up to buy them.
"I believe the government for sure but I still feel fearful", said Fu Ning, a 36-year-old woman in Beijing. That travel rush is expected to spread the disease more widely.
Medical workers in protective suits could be seen carrying supplies and stretchers into Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some of the patients are being treated.
© Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images People walk next to signage detailing hygenic practices to prevent the spread of a SARS-like coronavirus at the Huashan Hospital in Shanghai on January 21, 2020.
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"Wuhan is a major hub and with travel being a huge part of the fast approaching Chinese New Year, the concern level must remain high", said Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust.
"That would also suggest that other countries not accept tourists and visitors for whatever reason from China". They attributed the spike in new cases to improvements in detection and monitoring.
The local news outlet also reported that local hospitals have been notified of the virus' symptoms and that the Ministry of Health is preparing isolation departments in fever hospitals in case of an outbreak.
Gao said officials are working on the assumption that the outbreak resulted from human exposure to wild animals being sold illegally at a food market in Wuhan and that the virus is mutating.
BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Deaths from China's new flu-like virus rose to nine on Wednesday with more than 470 confirmed cases, heightening global fears of contagion from an infection suspected to have come from animals.
This time, while not everything about the respiratory illness is known, it doesn't appear to be as easily transmitted between people, said Henry. "That was not the case with SARS".
A National Health Commission official admitted that the country was now at the "most critical stage" of prevention and control.
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The virus is said to have originated in Wuhan, China, where the burden of infection is likely higher than places like Canada or the USA, he added.